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NCAA TOURNAMENT / CHAMPIONSHIP GAME | NOTES

Ndiaye Recants His Claim That Johnsen Used Racial Epithet

March 31, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD

North Carolina center Makhtar Ndiaye has recanted his claim that Utah's Britton Johnsen used a racial epithet during Utah's NCAA semifinal victory, issuing a statement through the school and adding that he has sent Johnsen an apology for falsely accusing him.

"During the game, Britt Johnsen and I were doing trash-talking face to face, which was not right, but I did not spit on him nor did he use the N-word to me," said Ndiaye, a senior.

"I got upset in the locker room when some reporters were asking me about what we were saying to each other and I let my emotions get away from me.

"I was very upset after our loss Saturday night to Utah and said some things I should not have said.

"I have sent Britt a letter of apology and wish him and the Utah team well [Monday night] in the championship game. I am sorry that this has caused any distraction for Britt and his teammates as they prepare for tonight's game."

Johnsen, upset by reports Sunday that Ndiaye had said he used racially offensive language, sharply denied using any offensive terms but claimed that Ndiaye spit at him.

Earlier this season, Ndiaye said that fans behind the Maryland bench at a North Carolina home game used racially offensive language, but his claim was never corroborated.

North Carolina Coach Bill Guthridge also issued a statement about the Utah incident, saying Ndiaye "said some things after the game that were not appropriate and he is certainly sorry," and added that he has tried to reach Utah Coach Rick Majerus by phone. Majerus had said he would resign if Ndiaye's claim were true.

*

Utah assistant coach Donny Daniels, a former Cal State Fullerton and L.A. Harbor coach as well as a former Verbum Dei coach, stopped for a moment just before the game when he saw people from Los Angeles.

"Can you believe a guy from Cal State Fullerton is sitting on the bench for the national championship?" he said.

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