Duke Volleyball Player Targeted with Racial Slurs During Game: 'She Felt Afraid'

·3 min read
Rachel Richardson Duke University Volleyball
Rachel Richardson Duke University Volleyball

Duke University

Marvin Richardson, the father of 19-year-old Duke University student Rachel Richardson, is criticizing officials after his daughter was the target of racial slurs during a volleyball match last week.

While speaking to ABC affiliate WTVD, Marvin said he was disappointed in the response that followed after Rachel was repeatedly called the "N-word" while her Duke volleyball team faced Bringham Young University in Provo, Utah, on Friday.

"Whoever is the adult in charge should have intervened at that time," Marvin told the news station.

BYU, a private university sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, published an apology a day after the match. In a tweet, they also announced that they had banned the fan — who was not a BYU student — from their athletic venues.

PEOPLE reached out to representatives of Duke for comment on Tuesday. In an email, a BYU representative said the school continues "to express our sympathy for what the Duke student-athletes experienced Friday night."

"Racism is wrong, and there is no place for it at BYU or anywhere," they added. "BYU has spent countless hours examining what happened Friday night and we continue to look at how the events transpired and what we can learn and do differently in the future."

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Rachel talked about the incident in a statement posted to her Twitter account on Sunday afternoon where she said she and other Black members of her team were "targeted and racially heckled" during the game.

"The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe," she wrote. "Both the officials and BYU coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game but failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment."

Marvin said Rachel called him crying and told him a police officer had been asked to stand next to other BYU fans who had been yelling during the game.

"The heckling was beyond heckling. You love a raucous crowd," Marvin, who lives in Maryland, told WTVD. "She indicated they were using the N-word. She felt not only afraid, but threatened."

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"You stop that behavior immediately. I've seen coaches grab the microphone and say knock it off and if they don't knock it off, get out. If you don't get out, we'll get you out. That's the right thing to do at a sporting venue," Marvin said. "That did not happen."

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While speaking with NBC affiliate KSL-TV, Marvin called on others to take action when they see someone become the target of racism.

"You have to call racism out at every turn," he said. "You can't give ignorance a pass."

"If you call it out for what it is, and I call it out for what it is, and we don't stand by and allow these things to happen then we take the normality out of it," he continued. "That's not normal that's not acceptable."

Rachel said in her post that her intention is not "to call BYU's athletics out but rather to call them up."

"This is an opportunity to dig deep into closed cultures which tolerate amoral racial acts, such as those exhibited Friday night, and change them for the better," she said.