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Duke volleyball’s Rachel Richardson heckled with racial slurs, and BYU didn’t do much about it

BYU’s athletic department is under fire after Duke women’s volleyball player Rachel Richardson was heckled with racial slurs during a match in Provo over the weekend. Richardson and Duke have criticized the slow response from BYU to adequately handle the situation both during and after the game.

The incident first went public when Richardson’s godmother, Lesa Pamplin, tweeted details of the abuse Richardson and her teammates heard during the game. Richardson put out her own statement on Sunday sharing her experience at the game, and calling for this to be used as a teaching moment throughout college athletics.

Richardson was called racial slurs including the “n-word” when she was serving during the second set from a fan in BYU’s student section. Richardson’s father told The News and Observer the comments came from multiple fans, and continued into the fourth set.

When BYU was made aware of the situation, they reportedly placed a police officer between the Duke bench and student section, but didn’t kick the fan or fans out of the arena.

“There was knowledge of the slurs, on behalf of the officials and the coaching staffs,” Richardson’s father told the News and Observer. “And nothing was done.”

A BYU spokesman said the school couldn’t pinpoint the heckler during the game. After Duke identified the perpetrator after the game, the person was banned by BYU from all athletic venues on campus. The person who received the ban was not a student.

“This is an opportunity to dig deep into closed cultures which tolerate amoral racist acts, such as those exhibited Friday night, and change them for the better,” Richardson wrote. Here’s here full statement:

Richardson spoke about what she heard during the game in her statement:

“The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe. 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. As a result, my teammates and I had to struggled just to get through the rest of the game, instead of just being able to focus on our playing so that we could compete at the highest level possible. 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.”

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe addressed the situation at the next game, but has faced criticism for refusing to call the incident racist.

Richardson was scheduled to meet with Holmoe and BYU volleyball coach Heather Olmstead over the weekend, but Olmstead reportedly didn’t show up to the meeting.

Here’s the full statement from BYU. Duke has also issued a statement.

We’ll update this story as it develops.



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