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2021 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship

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Last month, we reported that a Black volleyball player from Duke University said she was taunted with racial slurs by a fan during a game at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah. A security guard reportedly had to be placed by the bleachers because the Klan…I mean, fan was so unruly and was banned from all future games. Then before the following game, BYU’s athletic director addressed the incident, said he met with the Black student and her family and publicly scolded the alleged slur-slinging fan.

Now, after all of that, BYU has said it conducted its own investigation (conveniently) and it found no evidence that any racial taunting happened at all, and the fan is now allowed to attend games again.

Here’s part of the BYU statement:

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. 

So, BYU conducted its own investigation and now we’re supposed to take it at face value that it came up with nothing to support the allegations of racial heckling. (After all, it’s not like BYU released any proof that it combed through all of this video footage like it was the FBI investigating a terrorist attack. I mean, I can say I conducted an internal investigation of my own farts and can confirm that they don’t stink—but, well…you  see where I’m going with this.) We’re supposed to just believe the 50 people who said they never heard any racial slurs represent a general consensus of everyone who attended the game.

But mostly, we’re supposed to believe a Black woman was just making things up. That Duke athlete Rachael Richardson just selected a random white man from the stands and just imagined that he was hurling the N-word at her throughout the game?

It’s also worth mentioning that BYU’s statement came with a preempt for people who might not believe its story.

“There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review,” the statement said. “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.” (Pssst, how about you show yours first.)

Either way, Duke University Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King isn’t buying it.

“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,” King said in response to the BYU statement, according to CNN. “We unequivocally stand with and champion them, especially when their character is called into question.”

But calling a Black woman a liar has always been easier than calling a white person a racist in predominately white spaces. (*gestures widely towards America*) Sometimes we just can’t win.


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