PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – Recently, the Brigham Young University (BYU) Athletics Department spoke out about the racist allegations surrounding the Aug. 26 volleyball match played against Duke University. Additionally, Governor Spencer Cox released a public statement regarding the claims, as well as Duke University.
The most recent statement from BYU athletics concerning the Aug. 26 volleyball match reads as follows:
“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.“
A Tweet from Governor Spencer Cox in reference to the racist allegations reads as follows:
“After recent reported allegations of racism, I followed BYU’s own statement and condemned the incident in the strongest possible terms. Subsequently it appears that neither the school, media, law enforcement nor anyone else in the arena has been able to confirm these allegations.
I will always speak out strongly against racism. I also believe it is important to step back and acknowledge new facts as they come to light and speak publicly about them as well. Part of that requires patience, something I could have done better in this situation. I apologize to the fan who apparently was unfairly singled out.
I appreciate the exhaustive investigation and work conducted by Tom Holmoe and BYU and fully support the school in their efforts to resolve this mater.”
Duke University Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King has released the following statement on the matter:
“The 18 members of the Duke University volleyball team are exceptionally strong women who represent themselves, their families, and Duke University with the utmost integrity. We unequivocally stand with and champion them, especially when their character is called into question. Duke Athletics believes in respect, equality and inclusiveness, and we do not tolerate hate and bias.” #HateWontLiveHere
ORIGINAL STORY: POLICE: BYU finds no evidence of fan using racial slurs
AUGUST 31 / 4:37 P.M.
PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – Brigham Young University (BYU) police have reportedly found no evidence of a Cougar fan using racial slurs toward Duke University Volleyball players during the game on Friday.
During the Aug. 26 match, police say that Duke officials advised a BYU officer on duty of racial comments coming from the BYU student section directed toward Rachel Richardson and other Duke University players. Following the match, Duke officials reportedly pointed out the fan, who was escorted off BYU property and later received an indefinite ban from BYU Athletics.
In a police report filed by Officer Richard Laursen, he stated he was informed of the comments made during the third set of the match. At the start of the fourth set, Laursen said he moved to stand between the Duke players and the BYU student section, though he did not hear any racial slurs. Laursen later confirmed this with staff from BYU Athletics.
While standing near the BYUI student section amid the third set, Laursen said that he was questioned by a BYU fan, the same person who was eventually banned from the college’s athletic events, as to why the officer was there and if there was an issue. Laursen reports that he told the fan that he “was there listening for inappropriate comments towards Duke players and the fan told (him) that he hasn’t heard any inappropriate comments. He said he told the players that they shouldn’t hit the ball into the net, but that was the only comment he made to the Duke players.”
Laursen went on to add that the fan, who is reportedly a student of another University, “seemed more interested in talking to (him) than cheering for BYU.” Laursen also stated that the student appeared to have special needs.
In his report, Laursen went on to note that after the match had finished, Duke players and coaches were still upset with what happened during the game, and claimed that the alleged racial comments targeting Duke players continued throughout the fourth set and that Laursen did nothing to address them. Laursen reportedly told the athletic staff that he never heard any racial comment being made throughout the match.
As reported by ABC4 following the incident, Lesa Pamplin of Fort Worth, Tex. originally tweeted about the incident saying Rachel Richardson, her goddaughter was called the N-word every time she served.
“She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus,” Pamplin Tweeted, adding that, “A police officer had to be put by their bench. You allowed this racist behavior to continue without intervening. Apologizing to her parents after the fact is not enough. She will soon be sharing her story.”
Laursen later reviewed footage of the game with one of the BYU coaches but still could not find any evidence of racial discrimination stemming from the BYU student section. Laursen noted that the fan in question was either not present while Richardson served or was on his phone and not paying attention to the game when the Duke player was serving.
In a statement following the incident, BYU Athletics released a statement on Twitter saying that they are “extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans” during the match.
“We will not tolerate behavior of this kind,” the statement continues. “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.”
Duke’s game the following night against Rider was moved to Mountain View High School and was played without any fans in attendance.
The most recent statement from BYU officials regarding the incident reads as follows:
“Various BYU Athletics employees have been reviewing video from BYUtv and other cameras in the facility that the volleyball team has access to for film review. This has been ongoing since right after the match on Friday night.
The person who was banned was the person identified by Duke as using racial slurs. However, we have been unable to find any evidence of that person using slurs in the match.
We have stated that if there is anyone who has photo or video evidence of a perpetrator of racial slurs from Friday night, we would welcome that information.”