North Carolina's women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell is being flooded with well-wishes on social media, a day after revealing she has leukemia and will step down from her post while she undergoes treatment.
The Daily Tar Heel reported t
hat a team of doctors led by oncologist Pete Voorhees from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center will treat the 61-year-old coach.
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“I will remain very much involved with my team and day-to-day operations here at UNC and expect to return to my sideline responsibilities as soon as possible,” Hatchell said in a statement. “My veteran staff and team will be well-prepared and meet any challenges until my return. Don’t forget I am a Tar Heel woman!”
Twitter was abuzz with well-wishes following the revelation.
Hatchell’s diagnosis comes just one month after she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. With a record of 636-241 at Chapel Hill and a career mark of 908-321, Hatchell is among the most successful women's basketball coaches of all time. Her record landed her second place among basketball coaches, behind former Tennessee coach Pat Summit, who retired last year after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Sylvia has our complete support and is in our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery,” UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement, according to the Charlotte Observer.
“Sylvia is a fighter and her enduring spirit will aid her greatly. Her staff and players, family and members of the athletics and university community will do what we can to bolster those efforts.”
Hatchell will be replaced by longtime assistant coach Andrew Calder, who has been on Hatchell’s staff since she arrived at UNC. The Associated Press reported
former Campbell men’s head coach Billy Lee is being added as an assistant until Hatchell returns.
In a statement, Tar Heels’ men’s coach Roy Williams said he was heartbroken for Hatchell’s family.
“I know how much Sylvia loves to coach and compete with her team, so any time that she misses will be difficult,” he said, according to the AP. “But she’s tough and she will fight this with everything she has. All of us at Carolina and all of her friends in the coaching community will support her 100 percent in this fight.”
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