Hatchell to sit 2 games for referee contact, NCAA violation

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell faces a two-game suspension for making contact with an official during a recent loss to Duke as well as for an NCAA violation.

The school announced the suspensions in a news release Friday. The Hall of Fame coach will miss Sunday's game at North Carolina State and a trip to Boston College on Feb. 7.

UNC said the school issued a one-game suspension for the referee incident, while the NCAA issued a separate suspension for ''activities that simulate game day introductions of prospects during an official visit.''

Assistant coach Tracey Williams-Johnson will also serve a one-game NCAA suspension for the same violation. She will miss the Louisville game on Thursday.

Associate head coach Andrew Calder will coach the team in Hatchell's absence.

''I place a high value on sportsmanship for myself, my team and the university,'' Hatchell said in a statement. ''My actions at Duke were out of character and do not reflect the deep respect for our sport and its officials.

''And we unintentionally broke a rule during a recruiting visit, a mistake we will not make again. I accept responsibility for these mistakes and look forward to returning for the remainder of the year to coach this incredible group of women.''

The school said it consulted with Atlantic Coast Conference officials before issuing its suspension. The NCAA suspensions were tied to ''the manner in which prospects were introduced at a team function'' and were considered a Level III violation, the school said.

Hatchell has 973 career victories, more than any active coach in women's basketball. She has 701 wins in 30 seasons at UNC, where she led the Tar Heels to the 1994 NCAA championship.

Williams-Johnson is in her 13th season as a UNC assistant and is the team's recruiting director. Calder has been on Hatchell's staff here since her arrival in 1986 and coached the team through the 2013-14 season while Hatchell stepped away to focus on treatment for leukemia.

''We have tremendous respect for Coach Hatchell, but it's important that we hold ourselves accountable for issues involving sportsmanship and compliance, even when mistakes are made inadvertently,'' athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. ''Each of us in the athletic department will learn valuable lessons from these situations and hopefully avoid missteps such as these in the future.''

The suspensions only add to what has already been a difficult year for the Tar Heels (12-10, 2-5 ACC), who are playing with only six scholarship players after losing three transfers - Allisha Gray to South Carolina, Stephanie Mavunga to Ohio State and Jessica Washington to Kansas - following last season. That wiped out what was left of a four-player recruiting class ranked No. 1 nationally in 2013, with Diamond DeShields transferring to Tennessee after her freshman year.

The program and school are both still under the shadow of a long-running NCAA investigation into academic misconduct involving a department with courses featuring significant athlete enrollments.

In May, the NCAA charged the school with five violations, including lack of institutional control, as well as accusing an academic counselor working with women's basketball players of providing improper assistance on research papers.

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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