Two weeks ago, on August 26, a fan at BYU vs. Duke Volleyball game was allegedly shouting racial slurs at a Duke Blue Devils player, Rachel Richardson, and was subsequently banned from all university venues.
“My Goddaughter is the only Black starter for Dukes volleyball team,” Lesa Pamplin, Richardson’s Godmother, wrote on Twitter. “While playing yesterday, she was called a n— 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.”
Then, last Wednesday, the controversy grew as BYU police say that the man who was banned after the incident does not appear to be the person shouting the N-word, according to surveillance footage.
“When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him,” BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer said on August 30.
Now, on September 9, BYU athletics has released an official statement regarding the investigation from the August 26th incident.
“As part of our commitment to take any claims of racism seriously, BYU has completed its investigation into the allegation that racial heckling and slurs took place at the Duke vs. BYU women’s volleyball match on August 26. We reviewed all available video and audio recordings, including security footage and raw footage from all camera angles taken by BYUtv of the match, with broadcasting audio removed (to ensure that the noise from the stands could be heard more clearly). We also reached out to more than 50 individuals who attended the event: Duke athletic department personnel and student-athletes, BYU athletic department personnel and student-athletes, event security and management and fans who were in the arena that evening, including many of the fans in the on-court student section.
“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. 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.
“Our fight is against racism, not against any individual or any institution. Each person impacted has strong feelings and experiences, which we honor, and we encourage others to show similar civility and respect. We remain committed to rooting out racism wherever it is found. We hope we can all join together in that important fight.
“There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review. 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. As stated by Athletics Director Tom Holmoe, BYU and BYU Athletics are committed to zero-tolerance of racism, and we strive to provide a positive experience for everyone who attends our athletic events, including student-athletes, coaches and fans, where they are valued and respected.“