Google Earth/screenshot by NPR
A man who was banned from Brigham Young University athletics facilities after a racist incident at a recent volleyball game may not be the person who screamed defamation during the game, BYU officials say.
The defamation marred a high-profile matchup between BYU and Duke last Friday, an early showdown that drew some 5,500 people to Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, according to attendance statistics quoted by BYU TV.
“The person who was banned was the person whom Duke identified as using racist remarks,” Jon McBride, BYU’s Associate Athletic Director, said in a statement quoted by the Salt Lake City Tribune.
McBride said BYU Athletics officials scoured the videotapes of the school’s game to find those responsible.
“However, we have not been able to find any evidence that that person used defamation in the match,” he said.
Similarly, BYU police told Lt. George Besendorfer at the Stand that his agency found no evidence that the man was yelling slander after watching videotapes.
News of the racist comments became public after the game and attracted national attention over the weekend when Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson said that she and other black athletes “were targeted and racially harassed throughout the competition.”
In the wake of the incident, BYU Athletics apologized and said it banned a fan from all of its athletic venues after Duke’s team identified him as the culprit.
“Although this fan was in the BYU student section, this person is not a BYU student,” the athletics department said.
As the video of the rough-and-tumble game shows, Smith Fieldhouse’s student area extends down to court level, next to the visiting players’ bench area. Footage of Duke players serving shows that they often did so with a crowd of BYU students yelling at them just steps away.