South Carolina University’s women’s basketball has bowed out of two upcoming games against Brigham Young University (BYU) in response to an alleged incident involving racial slurs last Friday that is adding up to just another race-baiting hoax.
The Gamecock’s head coach Dawn Staley canceled a Nov. 7 home game against BYU and a second game slated for next year at BYU, according to a press release, citing the recent unproven Duke-BYU women’s volleyball incident as the cause to withdraw from the games against the Christian team.
“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff. 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,” the coach, who is black, said.
But the race incident may not be all the Duke women’s volleyball player claimed it to be, alleging that she and her teammates were subjected to racial slurs being hurled at them for the duration of the match against the school affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
“Friday night in our match against Brigham Young University my fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match,” Rachel Richardson posted on Twitter. “The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe. Both of 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.
“They also failed to adequately address the situation immediately following the game when it was brought to their attention again. No athlete, regardless of their race should ever be subject to such hostile conditions,” the black team member said.
Richardson clarified that she did not believe it was “in anyway [sic] a reflection of what the BYU athletics stand for,” and complimented BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe for being “quick to act in a very respectful and genuine manor [sic].”
“This is not the first time this has happened in college athletics and sadly it likely will not be the last time,” she added. “We are proud to be young African American women; we are proud to be Duke student athletes, and we are proud to stand up against racism.”
— rachel ♡ (@rachrich03) August 28, 2022
In spite of her claims, numerous reports have been unable to identify any instances of racial slurs at the volleyball game.
(Video Credit: CBS 17)
BYU Athletics released an earlier response last week on social media condemning the actions of the individual whom they said was not a BYU student.
“All of God’s children deserve love and respect, and BYU Athletics is completely committed to leading out in banding attitudes and actions of prejudice of any kind and rooting out racism,” the school official began.
“To say we are extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans in last night’s volleyball match in Smith Fieldhouse between BYU and Duke is not strong enough language,” they continued. “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.”
Official statement from BYU Athletics. pic.twitter.com/5bIwXNwr7J
— BYU Cougars (@BYUCougars) August 27, 2022
Although there was a fan banned from the game after a Duke player identified him as the person allegedly shouting the N-word, BYU police were unable to confirm that the man tossed out was the culprit.
“When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him,” BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer said last Tuesday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The police report did confirm that an anonymous and threatening voicemail was left for one of the Cougars’ athletic coaches last Sunday.
The day following the incident, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe visited Richardson who sang his praise in an interview with ESPN.
“One thing I can say is he’s probably one of the most genuine people that I’ve ever met,” the college volleyball player said. “I very much so felt heard and felt seen during that conversation.
“I could see like how sorry he was and honestly shocked that it happened,” she added.
In a subsequent op-ed published in Utah’s Deseret News on Thursday, Holmoe addressed the “percolating narrative that BYU (and even Duke) did not do anything” to address the situation was “unsubstantiated and unfair.”
“When the complaint first surfaced, BYU head coach Heather Olmstead immediately took action,” he clarified. “Four staff and a uniformed police officer were placed in the student section. They were later joined by an athletic administrator from Duke.”
“Coach Olmstead’s reaction in alerting event management staff was immediate and decisive. The crowd was large and boisterous but there were no observations of racist behavior.”
“While some will try to define BYU by this incident, we will ultimately be defined by how we respond. The BYU I know and love rejects racism,” Holmoe said, urging people to embrace the words of the LDS Church’s current president Russell M. Nelson, ‘Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent!… God does not love one race more than another… I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice.'”
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