Updated Aug 28, 2022 - Sports

Fan banned from BYU matches after allegedly shouting racist slurs

A sign at BYU
Photo: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A fan who allegedly shouted racist slurs and threatened a Black Duke University volleyball player during a game against Brigham Young University in Utah on Friday has been banned from BYU sporting events, NBC News reports.

Driving the news: The player, Rachel Richardson, "was called a n----r every time she served," her godmother Lesa Pamplin wrote on Twitter, adding that the person shouting the slurs was “a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus.”

  • She added that a police officer was put by the Duke bench because of the heckling.

Richardson in a statement on Twitter on Sunday said BYU coaching staff were notified of the incident, and that it caused players to feel unsafe, but "failed to make the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior. ... They also failed to address the situation immediately following the game when it was brought to their attention again."

  • Richardson praised the BYU athletes and said the harassment was not a reflection on them. The BYU athletic director "was 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. However, each time it happens we as student athletes, coaches, fans, and administrators have a chance to educate those who act in hateful ways.
"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.
"It is not enough to indicate that you are not racist, instead you must demonstrate that you are anti-racist."
— Duke University volleyball player Rachel Richardson

BYU didn't confirm the details of the incident but said in an apology on social media it has banned the perpetrator from athletic venues. The university said the person is not a student, but was sitting in the student section.

  • “To say we are extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans in last night’s volleyball match ... is not strong enough language," the statement reads.
  • "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."

Some figures in sports have rallied to support Richardson.

  • Basketball star LeBron James tweeted to Pamplin: "@LesaPamplin, you tell your Goddaughter to stand tall, be proud and continue to be BLACK!!! We are a brotherhood and sisterhood! We have her back. This is not sports."
  • Sportswriter Jemele Hill called on Duke to cancel games in support of Richardson.

A Duke volleyball game against Rider University, which was scheduled to take place Saturday in the same BYU field house where the incident happened, was moved to a new location.

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