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Basketball Australia apologizes for hair rule Tiffany Mitchell called out

(Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Basketball Australia has apologized for a mistaken hair policy WNBA guard Tiffany Mitchell said was “clear racial discrimination” in an Instagram post Sunday.

Mitchell, who’s playing for the Melbourne Boomers during the WNBA offseason, filed a complaint to the league about a policy that required players with long braids to tie them up or put them in a bun. Basketball Australia had sent an email to team general managers about rules that would be enforced during the season, citing the the hair rule that had been removed from FIBA’s rulebooks but not from the WNBL.

In a statement on Saturday, BA said it had “reviewed the rule” Mitchell said unfairly targeted Black players and removed it from the rulebook.

“The policy has been deemed discriminatory and inconsistent with Basketball Australia’s Diversity and Inclusion framework by the WNBL Commission,” the statement read. “It is also not enforced in either the WNBL, other leading professional women’s leagues around the world or international competitions such as the Olympics and World Cup. To this end, the WNBL Commission has removed the policy, effective immediately.

“Basketball Australia makes an unreserved apology for any anguish and pain that was caused by this rule.”

Mitchell and her Melbourne teammates took a knee during the national anthem before their game on Saturday to protest the policy, which Basketball Australia rescinded that same day.

“I’ve played all around the world, in every top league at the highest level and my braids has never been an issue,” Mitchell wrote on Instagram. “The target I felt I had on my bad was indescribable but still played with all the disappoint I felt from Basketball Australia.

“I am completely thankful for my club as they stood behind my teammate and myself that had braids and they were very supportive. It gave me a sense of comfort knowing that the ladies that I suit up with every night had my teammate and I backs.”

Mitchell is a shooting guard for the Indiana Fever. The South Carolina product was the ninth overall pick of the Fever in the 2016 WNBA Draft.