Ex-UNC coach allowed to still drive after fatal crash


DURHAM, N.C. — After killing an 89-year-old pedestrian last year, former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell has appealed her guilty plea and received a more lenient sentence that will allow her to still drive.

Hatchell’s attorney told Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson on Monday that his client couldn’t afford to lose her driver’s license for a year if the conviction were allowed to stand, WRAL-TV reported.

The former coach hit Betty Colby with her car in January 2020, causing Colby to hit her head on the pavement of a parking lot. She died two days later.

Hatchell, 69, pleaded guilty in September to misdemeanor death by vehicle and unsafe movement.

She was originally sentenced to 30 days, which was suspended for six months of unsupervised probation. She was also ordered to complete 50 hours of community service, pay a $150 fine and $150 in court costs.

Colby’s daughters said Hatchell never tried to help their mother after hitting her and asked that she be held to her earlier plea and sentence.

“I feel like she’s using her notoriety once again to explain and excuse her behavior, and that’s not OK,” D’Ann Colby said.

But Hudson agreed to grant Hatchell a “prayer for judgment continued.” That means the conviction won’t be on her record, but the court could still pass judgment later if she commits another offense.

“I’m truly sorry for your loss, and I wish I could do something about it. But I feel like I can never satisfy you on what an appropriate judgment can be,” Hudson told Colby’s family.

Hatchell has not had any other driving infractions, her attorney said. After the court hearing, Hatchell said she’s trying to honor Colby’s life moving forward.

Hatchell, the winningest women’s basketball coach in Atlantic Coast Conference History, resigned in April 2019. An external review found she had made “racially insensitive” comments and applied “undue influence” regarding players’ ability to compete through medical issues.

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