Duke volleyball player issues statement after enduring racist slurs

(Keith Lucas/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Rachel Richardson, a sophomore on the Duke volleyball team, spoke out Sunday after she reportedly endured racist abuse during a Friday match at Brigham Young University in Utah.

“My fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match,” Richardson said in a statement posted to her Twitter account. “The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe.”

Per Richardson, officials and the 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.”

Richardson’s godmother, Lesa Pamplin, first spoke about the event Saturday, posting about the incident on her own Twitter account.

Pamplin said that Richardson was called the n-word “every time she served” and “was threatened by a white male,” resulting in a police officer being placed on the Duke bench.

According to NBC News, Richardson spoke with the BYU Athletic Director, who identified the individual as a guest, not a BYU student. The game drew a crowd of more than 5,000 people to BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse.

BYU Athletics issued a statement Saturday saying the fan in question had been banned from all athletic venues on campus.

“Once notified, the BYU athletic director, Tom Holmoe, was quick to act in a very respectful and genuine manor,” Richardson said. “It is neither my nor Duke volleyball’s goal to call BYU’s athletics out but rather to call them up.

“This is an opportunity to dig deep into close cultures which tolerate amoral racist acts, such as those exhibited Friday night, and change them for the better. It is not enough to indicate that you are not racist, instead you must demonstrate that you are anti-racist.”

Richardson ended her statement by speaking on behalf of her and her teammates: “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.”