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1998 NCAA Men's Tournament

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  Ndiaye Recants Claim on Racial Slur

By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 31, 1998; Page C7

SAN ANTONIO, March 30 — North Carolina center Makhtar Ndiaye today recanted earlier statements that a Utah player used a racial slur during Saturday's national semifinals and apologized for making the accusation.

However, Ndiaye maintained that he did not spit on Utah forward Britton Johnsen as Johnsen alleged after the Utes' 65-59 victory at the Alamodome.

On Monday, North Carolina Coach Bill Guthridge and Ndiaye met for about 15 minutes in Chapel Hill, N.C., then issued an written apology to Johnsen, Majerus and the entire Utes team before tonight's championship game between Utah and Kentucky.

In a statement released Monday by North Carolina, Ndiaye said: "I was very upset after our loss Saturday to Utah and said some things I should not have said. During the game, Britt Johnsen and I were doing some 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.

"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 have sent Britt a letter of apology and wish him and the Utah team well in the championship game."

Johnsen told the Associated Press that he accepted the apology.

"It's unfortunate this whole thing happened," Johnsen said this afternoon. "In a way, I feel bad for the kid. He's a senior and it was his last game. Some people don't think before they do things."

It was not the first time this season Ndiaye had accused someone of using a racial slur. During North Carolina's 85-67 victory over Maryland in Chapel Hill on Feb. 14, Ndiaye made an obscene gesture to some fans seated behind the Maryland bench. After the game, Ndiaye said one of those fans had repeatedly used a racial slur; the fans denied it.

Two North Carolina newspapers reported that during North Carolina's 93-83 overtime victory over North Carolina Charlotte in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Ndiaye made a similar gesture to fans and to the UNC Charlotte band.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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