BYU Found No Evidence Fan used Racial Slur During Duke Volleyball Match

September 12, 2022 / Athletic AdministrationAthletic Leader
In an update to a previously viral college sports story, BYU says it found no corroborating evidence of racial heckling during a women’s volleyball match against Duke last month.

The school released its finding after an “extensive review” of the incident.

byuDuke volleyball player Rachel Richardson alleged that she repeatedly heard a racial slur directed at her during the Aug. 26 match from someone sitting in BYU’s student section. Richardson’s godmother also said the player was called a racial slur “every time she served.”

A recent story from ESPN shared the findings from BYU, which also released a statement on the issue late last week.

Below is an excerpt from the ESPN article.

BYU banned a fan from all its athletic events shortly after Richardson’s allegations but lifted the ban following its investigation. The school says it reviewed all available video and audio recordings and contacted more than 50 people who attended the event, including some Duke athletes and staff members. The review included security camera footage and footage from BYUtv with broadcasting audio removed.

“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,” BYU said Friday in a statement. “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.”

BYU communicated the results of the investigation to Duke before releasing its statement, the school told ESPN. The schools’ athletic directors, BYU’s Tom Holmoe and Duke’s Nina King, have been in regular communication throughout the investigation.

Richardson had informed her coaches about the heckling during the match. She later told ESPN’s Holly Rowe of the incident: “I heard a very strong, negative racial slur. … So I served the ball, got through the play. And then the next time I went back to serve, I heard it extremely clear again, but that was the end of the game.”

Holmoe met with Richardson on Aug. 27 and made several changes to its fan code of conduct, including relocating where volleyball fans are seated during matches. Richardson praised Holmoe for his approach to the incident, telling Rowe, “I could see how sorry he was and honestly shocked that it happened.”

To read the full story from ESPN, click here.