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Duke volleyball player: BYU response slow to racial slurs

Play between Wisconsin and Louisville during a semifinal of the NCAA women's college volleyball tournament Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.
Paul Vernon
/
AP
Play between Wisconsin and Louisville during a semifinal of the NCAA women's college volleyball tournament Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.

The Duke volleyball player who was subjected to racial slurs during a match at BYU said Sunday that officials onsite didn't react quickly enough when they were made aware of the behavior during play.

Nor did they adequately address the situation immediately after the game, Rachel Richardson said in a statement posted to her Twitter account.

“No athlete, regardless of their race should ever be subject to such hostile conditions,” said Richardson, the only Black starter on the Blue Devils team.

BYU banned a fan from all athletic venues on campus on Saturday, a day after the match. The fan was not a student but was sitting in the student section.

“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,” the statement said. “We wholeheartedly apologize to Duke University and especially its student-athlete competing last night for what they experienced. We want BYU athletic events to provide a safe environment for all, and there is no place for behaviors like this in our venues.”

Richardson was called a racial slur “every time she served,” her godmother, Lesa Pamplin, said in a tweet.

A 19-year-old sophomore from Ellicott City, Maryland, Richardson wrote that she didn't believe the fan's actions were a reflection of BYU athletes, saying her opponents showed respect and sportsmanship. adding that BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe had reacted quickly once he was notified.

“This is not the first time this has happened in college athletics and sadly it likely will not be the last time,” Richardson said. “However, each time it happens we as student athletes, coaches, fans, and administrators have a chance to educate those who act in hateful ways.”

Richardson also responded to the idea that some people would have liked to see Duke's team respond quickly, such as by refusing to continue playing in what became a 3-1 victory for BYU.

“Although the heckling eventually took a mental toll on me, I refused to allow it to stop me from doing what I love to do and what I came to BYU to do: which was to play volleyball," Richardson said. "I refused to allow those racist bigots to feel any degree of satisfaction from thinking that their comments had ‘gotten to me,’ So, I pushed through and finished the game.

"Therefore, on behalf of my African American teammates and I, we do not want to receive pity or to be looked at as helpless. We do not feel as though we are victims of some tragic unavoidable event. We are proud to be young African American women; we are proud to be Duke student athletes, and we are proud to stand up against racism.”

Duke and BYU are playing in a four-team, round-robin invitational along with Rider and Washington State. BYU beat Duke 3-1 on Friday.

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