Brigham Young University investigates alleged racial slurs against Duke Black volleyball players during game – The Hilltop

A Duke Volleyball game against Hawaii pictured. December 5, 2014. Flickr/Scott Foster. A Duke volleyball player alleges racial slurs were hurled at him and other black teammates during a game at BYU.

Brigham Young University (BYU) is currently investigating an incident during an August 26 volleyball game with Duke University on their campus in which Black Duke player Rachel Richardson and her family say she and her Black teammates were hurled racial slurs from the fan section. The event drew a lot of attention and many questions remain as a fan has already been banned from attending BYU games.

The story first made waves on social media after Richardson’s godmother, Lesa Pamplin, a Fort Worth, Texas-based attorney who is currently running for Judge Number 5 of the Court of Tarrant County Circuit, spoke about it in a tweet that quickly went viral.

“My goddaughter is the only black starter on the Duke volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called an a*igger every time she served. She was threatened by a white man who told him to watch her towards the team bus. A policeman had to be placed next to their bench,” Pamplin tweeted.

Richardson published a statement on Twitter confirming that she and her black teammates faced racial attacks and pointed out that BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe is working to ensure his staff – who Richardson said did not act during the match – is better equipped to handle such situations in the future.

“No athlete, regardless of race, should ever be subjected to hostile conditions. God has called each of us to be members of one body, while we may have our differences, they should never divide us,” reads Richardson’s statement.

The next game between Duke and BYU on Saturday August 27 has been moved off campus for security reasons. BYU released a statement Aug. 28 condemning what happened.

The university also revealed that a fan identified by Duke as shouting slurs has been banned from BYU sporting events indefinitely. The fan was later revealed to be a Utah Valley University (UVU) student sitting in the BYU fan section – whom the school eliminated for the rest of the tournament which ended on Saturday September 3.

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In a BYU police report, Lt. George Besendorfer reported that the man identified by Duke did not appear to have shouted the N-word or any slurs in the surveillance footage they reviewed. The officer placed on the bench, Det. sergeant. Richard Laursen said he didn’t hear any racial slurs uttered throughout the game and didn’t see the banned UVU student use negative language toward Duke players. Laursen also said he believed the UVU student had Asperger’s syndrome or autism.

Police spoke to the banned UVU student who said he approached a Duke player who was a friend after the game and said he only told the players not to touch the net with the ball. Lt. Besendorfer noted that no fans have come forward to say he knows who might have been shouting the epithets and encourages people who were in the fan section to come forward by contacting the police dispatcher at 801 -422-2222. Additionally, the school asked fans in attendance to provide any footage that might be helpful in determining where the slurs may have come from.

“We have said that if anyone has any photo or video evidence of a racial slur writer from Friday night (August 26), we would welcome that information,” said Jon McBride, director athlete associated with BYU. “BYU police and various BYU Athletics employees have reviewed video from BYUtv and other cameras at the facility to which the volleyball team has access for film review. It’s been going on since right after Friday night’s game,” he continued.

According to McBride, the investigation will end soon.

As Richardson said in his statement, “This isn’t the first time this has happened in college athletics.” These events, as described, match other notorious incidents of racism involving college games, such as one involving the Howard University women’s lacrosse team, which came under the brunt of racist and misogynistic comments hurled by spectators before an away game at Presbyterian College earlier this year. McBride said BYU Athletics is taking the necessary steps to correct this type of behavior in the future and promote the safety and well-being of those attending their sporting events.

“BYU Athletics provided training on how to avoid and prevent racism to its coaches, staff and student-athletes. This will continue…. We are confident that with BYU’s new home office, more education on how to avoid and prevent racism will be available to our entire student body,” he said.

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Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman


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