BYU Finds No Evidence of Racist Heckling Toward Black Volleyball Player [Update]

·3 min read
Rachel Richardson, Outside Hitter for Duke University Women’s Volleyball, is pictured in an official team roster portrait for the 2022 season.
Rachel Richardson, Outside Hitter for Duke University Women’s Volleyball, is pictured in an official team roster portrait for the 2022 season.

Updated as of 9/9/2022 at 3:30 p.m. ET by Kalyn Womack (?)

Crowd participation is a part of any sporting event, but unfortunately, some fans use that time to say the nastiest things to Black athletes. Brigham Young University banned a fan from all its athletic facilities after Duke University volleyball player Rachel Richardson and others alleged they “were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match,” Richardson said in a statement.

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However, BYU’s investigation of the incident (which should have been handled outside the school) did not find any evidence of the alleged heckling, according to CNN.

More on the investigation from CNN:

“As a result of our investigation, we have lifted the ban on the fan who was identified as having uttered racial slurs during the match,” the university said in a statement. “We have not found any evidence that that individual engaged in such an activity. BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any hardship the ban has caused.”

As we stated earlier, we would not tolerate any conduct that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe. That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation,” the statement said.

“Despite being unable to find supporting evidence of racial slurs in the many recordings and interviews, we hope that all those involved will understand our sincere efforts to ensure that all student-athletes competing at BYU feel safe,” BYU said.

BYU said they reviewed audio and video recordings along with the broadcast footage, per CNN. They also said they interviewed more than 50 people who attended the match but somehow came up with nothing. It’s hard to believe Richardson would call her father crying for no reason.

“She was crying, she was upset and Rachel’s not the person who calls and cries over a loss, it’s just not who she is. So we knew something was wrong and then as she started to tell us what was going on and what had happened during the game, first [we felt] anger, outrage and then just a real need to make sure something was done to correct the things that came across us,” Rachel’s father, Marvin Richardson, told CNN.

Richardson’s godmother Lesa Pamplin initially tweeted about the incident and stated, “My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Duke’s volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called a n***er every time she served.”

Richardson said BYU officials and coaches were made aware of the heckling “but failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.” It was only after the game ended that BYU acknowledged an incident had happened, banned the fan from future events, and tweeted an apology. Duke then moved their game to an alternative location the following day.

While Richardson said the racist words were hard to receive, she said she stood in her resolve that none of it would stop her from playing the game she loves.

From CNN:

“Although the heckling eventually took a mental toll on me, I refused to allow it to stop me from doing what I love to do and what I came to BYU to do, which was to play volleyball,” her tweet read. “I refused to allow those racist bigots to feel any degree of satisfaction from thinking that their comments had ‘gotten to me. So, I pushed through and finished the game.”