Univ. of South Carolina Women's Basketball Team Refuses to Play Against BYU After Racial Slur

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Head coach Dawn Staley of the South Carolina Gamecocks
Head coach Dawn Staley of the South Carolina Gamecocks

After a Brigham Young University (BYU) fan allegedly yelled racial slurs at a Duke volleyball player during an August match, the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team is backing out of a home-and-home series with BYU scheduled to take place over the ‘22-’23 and ‘23-’24 seasons. The first game was supposed to open this season. South Carolina’s women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley and the school’s athletics director Ray Tanner released statements explaining their decision to skip facing off against the Utah university.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.” Tanner added, “Dawn and I have discussed her thoughts on the situation. I support Dawn and all of our coaches in their right to schedule games and opponents that are best for their teams.”

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During an August 26 volleyball match against Duke on BYU’s Utah campus, a fan sitting in BYU’s student section yelled racial slurs at Rachel Richardson, Duke’s only Black starting player, every time she served. BYU responded by banning the fan, who was not a student, from all athletic events on campus. The school also condemned the fan’s behavior in an official statement on Twitter, which read, in part:

“All of God’s children deserve love and respect, and BYU Athletics is completely committed to leading out and abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice of any kind and rooting out racism.

We will not tolerate behavior of this kind. Specifically, the use of a racial slur at any of our athletic events is absolutely unacceptable, and BYU Athletics holds a zero-tolerance approach to this behavior. We wholeheartedly apologize to Duke University and especially its student-athlete competing last night for what they experienced. We want BYU athletic events to provide a safe environment for all, and there is no place for behaviors like this in our venues.”

But after reading a statement like that, it’s kind of hard to understand why BYU removed LGBTQ resource pamphlets from welcome bags for 2022 incoming freshmen. The university, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, does not allow students to date or show affection towards members of the same sex. Students who violate the policy risk being expelled.