Brigham Young University announced Friday that it had found no corroborating evidence that a fan directed racist slurs at a player during a women’s volleyball game against Duke last month.
Blue Devils sophomore Rachel Richardson said she endured racist heckling during a match at BYU on Aug. 26. Richardson’s grandmother also said a slur was directed at the player “every time she served.”
“I heard a very strong, negative racial slur,” Richardson told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “So I served the ball, got through the play. And then the next time I went back to serve, I heard it extremely clear again, but that was the end of the game.”
The school said it conducted an “extensive review” of the incident, which included interviews with more than 50 people who attended the event and the review of security and raw footage from the event.
“From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event,” BYU said in a statement. “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.
“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. 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.”
BYU releases a statement stating, "we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs" at a BYU-Duke volleyball match on Aug. 26.BYU says it lifted the ban on the fan who allegedly uttered the racial slurs. pic.twitter.com/e6sJH5nbVH— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) September 9, 2022
BYU releases a statement stating, "we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs" at a BYU-Duke volleyball match on Aug. 26.BYU says it lifted the ban on the fan who allegedly uttered the racial slurs. pic.twitter.com/e6sJH5nbVH
The findings of the investigation were communicated to Duke prior to the statement’s release, according to ESPN. The school’s athletic directors have been in contact throughout the investigation.
After the Aug. 26 match, Richardson met with BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, and Richardson praised Holmoe’s response. Several changes to the BYU fan code of conduct were made, including where fans were seated during volleyball matches.
“I could see how sorry he was and honestly shocked that it happened,” Richardson said.
In its statement Friday, BYU reiterated its zero-tolerance policy for racism.
“There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review,” BYU’s statement says. “To the contrary, we have tried to be as thorough as possible in our investigation, and we renew our invitation for anyone with evidence contrary to our findings to come forward and share it. 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.”
In the wake of the volleyball match, South Carolina women’s basketball canceled a home-and-home series with BYU.
“I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said on Sept. 2.
BYU had said it was “extremely disappointed” with the decision while a group of South Carolina lawmakers called for more answers in the decision to cancel the games and questioned the decision.
“If this incident turns out to be false, which again, every piece of evidence suggests that it is, the University of South Carolina owes BYU an apology for sure,” South Carolina state representative RJ May said.