March Madness Long Beach State Monson Mar 17, 2022; San Diego, CA, USA; A general view of the March Madness logo at center court before the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Viejas Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While most of the focus this week has been on the men’s and women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments, the focus was hijacked last week by racism in the state of Idaho.

Utah Utes head women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts said she and her players faced racist remarks as they went to a restaurant in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The games were played in Spokane, Washington.

Per Roberts, someone in a truck with a confederate flag leaned out of their car and used the N-word as players passed by.

“Racism is real and it happens, and it’s awful,” Roberts said at a news conference on Monday. “And for your players and staff to not feel safe in [an] NCAA tournament environment, it’s messed up.”

The team was so shaken by the incident that they changed hotels. UC Irvine, who was not involved in the incident, decided to move as well “for the well-being and safety of our student-athletes and the entire travel party,” a spokesperson told the press.

“We are devastated about the Utah team’s experience while traveling to compete on what should have been a weekend competing on the brightest stage and creating some of the fondest memories of their lives,” said the NCAA in a statement.

The Coeur d’Alene Police Department is looking into it and the town apologized to the team, but is that enough?

The NCAA has done a poor job of protecting its student-athletes. First of all, why would you send them to a place like North Idaho which has been a haven for white supremacists for decades? These people do not want nor seek diversity in that part of the country. What did the NCAA expect it was going to happen? they are fortunate that it didn’t get worse.

In fact, a known white supremacist showed up at the news conference on Tuesday to stir up trouble. Although he was booed, it’s still an embarrassment to that region

There are many spots the NCAA could have chosen other than Spokane. The top 16 seeds get to host, but surely they could have picked a better spot than that?

Maybe instead of using campus sites, why not do like the men and play in larger regional cities like Las Vegas, San Diego, or Tuscan? All out West but in better venues with more diversity.

Although the incident involved Utah, the state isn’t exactly immune from this conversation either. There have been several reports over the years of racist incidents taking place in the state.

One happened just last year at a volleyball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the BYU Cougars. One of the Duke volleyball players had racial slurs thrown at her during a match. The school apologized but the damage had been done.

The NCAA and its member schools have to put their foot down when it comes to this kind of racism.

If a school catches a person or persons making racial slurs, they should be banned from any major sporting event. It may not stop all the slurs from racist fans, but it may deter other idiots from doing the same thing.

Another thing the NCAA can do is pick better sites for tournament games where the players can feel safe. Playing in a place known for its white supremacy past was just a poor idea to begin with.

I understand that the NCAA is trying to expand the women’s game, but it is at the cost of their student-athlete’s safety, and that’s not worth it.

{Josh Furlong, MSNBC}

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.