Duke women’s volleyball player Rachel Richardson was repeatedly called a racial slur by a fan at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse on Friday night, according to her family.
In response, the BYU Cougars have banned that male fan for his racial comments. The school released a statement that apologized to the Blue Devils and their athletes.
“When a student-athlete or a fan comes to a BYU sporting event, we expect that they will be treated with love and respect and feel safe on our campus. It is for this reason BYU has banned a fan who was identified by Duke during last night’s volleyball match from all BYU athletic venues. Although this fan was sitting in BYU’s student section, this person is not a BYU student.”
“To say we are extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans in last night’s volleyball match in the Smith Fieldhouse between BYU and Duke is not strong enough language. We will not tolerate behavior of this kind. Specially, 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 want BYU athletic events to provide a safe environment for all, and there is no place for behaviors like this our venues.”
Lesa Pamplin, Richardson’s godmother, said every time Richardson served the ball during the match between Duke and BYU, a fan in the BYU student section shouted the racial slur. At one point in the match, Pamplin said, Richardson was also “threatened by a white male.”
“My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Dukes volleyball team,” Pamplin said. “While playing yesterday, she was called a [expletive] every time she served. She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus. A police officer had to be put by their bench.”
Richardson’s father, Marvin Richardson, said BYU did not kick the fan out of the event, which allowed the abuse to continue.
“Why wasn’t the fan removed? After the notification was made to officials and the coaching staff was made aware, why wasn’t something done then?” Marvin Richardson said in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. “That would be my question. I’ve attend university basketball games at Duke, and when something got out of hand, Coach K picked up the mic and said, ‘Hey knock it off.’ Why didn’t that happen here?”
“I don’t know why you would ask a police officer to stand on the floor unless there is a fear that something is going on that shouldn’t be happening,” he continued. “I believe that was the case.”
Richardson has since spoken out: