Duke volleyball player says BYU officials failed to stop racist heckling during game in newly released statement

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“Friday night in our game against Brigham Young University, my fellow African-American teammates and I were targeted and racially harassed throughout the game,” Richardson tweeted. “The slander and comments grew into threats that made us feel unsafe.”

Richardson’s godmother, Lesa Pamplin, initially tweeted about the incident Saturday, accusing the school of allowing the behavior without intervening.

“My goddaughter is the only black starter for the Dukes volleyball team. During yesterday’s game, she was called a ***er every time she served,” Pamplin tweeted.

The incident led to an apology from BYU, the school banned a fan, and Duke changed the locations of the team’s next game. It also caught the attention of NBA superstar LeBron Jameswho tweeted: “We are a brotherhood and sisterhood! We have her back. This is not a sport.”

Richardson said both BYU officials and coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game, “but did not take necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.” Even after the incident was brought to their attention, Richardson said BYU officials “didn’t handle the situation adequately.”

The harassment led to Richardson and her teammates struggling to get through the game, instead of just being able to focus on their game, she tweeted.

“No athlete, regardless of race, should ever be subjected to such hostile conditions,” Richardson tweeted.

Richardson also addressed comments that she or her teammates should have declined to continue playing.

“While the bickering eventually took a mental toll on me, I refused to let that stop me from doing what I love and came to BYU for, which is volleyball,” her tweet read. “I refused to give those racist bigots any measure of satisfaction in thinking that their comments ‘touched’ me. So I persevered and finished the game.”

Despite the incident, Richardson said she doesn’t believe this was a reflection of BYU athletes. She complimented their players on their great play and showed “nothing but respect and sportsmanship on and off the field.”

BYU Athletics did not confirm details of the incident but announced that they had banned a fan from all athletic venues and tweeted an apology.

“When a student athlete or fan comes to a BYU sporting event, we expect them to be treated with love, respect and to feel safe on our campus. For this reason, BYU has banned a fan identified by Duke during the volleyball game last night from all BYU athletic venues,” the statement said.

“We sincerely apologize to Duke University and especially the student athletes who competed last night for what they went through,” the statement read.

The statement stated that the person in question was not a BYU student, despite being in the student section.

The incident prompted Duke University to announce that they would be moving the location of their Saturday game and that their priority was the safety of student athletes.

“They should always have the opportunity to compete in an inclusive, anti-racist environment that promotes equality and fair play,” Duke said.

Matt Foster of CNN contributed to this report.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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