Brigham Young University said Friday it had completed its investigation into allegations of racial harassment and slander at a volleyball match against Duke University last month and found no evidence to support the conduct.
At the August 26 game, a black player for the Duke University women’s volleyball team said that she and her African-American teammates had been harassed because of their race. Standard crowd More than 5,500 people were in the stands for the game at University Stadium in Provo, Utah.
On match night, BYU said the person sitting in the fan section would be banned from all Cougars sporting events but later He told the Salt Lake Tribune He found no evidence that the anonymous spectator was responsible for the shouts of slander. The university’s associate athletic director, John McBride, He said on Tuesday That investigation is underway.
in the current situation Filed by McBride on Friday, the school said the investigation was complete.
“Through our extensive review, we have found no evidence to support the claim that fans engaged in racial harassment or racial slurs at the event,” the statement said. “As previously stated, we will not tolerate any behavior that would make a student-athlete feel insecure.”
Duke player’s father, Marvin Richardson, He told the New York Times, After the match, shouts were made repeatedly from the stands while his daughter, Rachel Richardson, was serving and that she feared the “loud” crowd. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Brigham Young University’s findings on Friday.
Two days after the match, Richardson, a sophomore, He said in a statement on Twitter She and her fellow African American “were targeted and racially harassed throughout the match”.
“The insults and comments grew into threats that made us feel insecure,” she said. “Both officials and coaching staff at BYU were informed of the incident during the match but failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.”
Duke University said in a statement Friday that it stood by the volleyball players.
Brigham Young University has not directly addressed why its findings contradict Richardson’s account, and statements by both universities have left unanswered questions. As part of the investigation, BYU said it reviewed security footage and footage captured by the school’s TV channel with audio removed for broadcast to hear noise from the stands more clearly.
The school said it also contacted more than 50 people who attended the event, including athletes, staff for Duke and BYU, event security and management officials, and “several fans in the student section of the stadium.” It was not clear how many were actually interviewed.
“Although we were unable to find supporting evidence of racial slurs in numerous recordings and interviews,” the school statement read, “we hope that all involved understand our sincere efforts to ensure that all student-athletes competing at Brigham Young University feel safe.” “
BYU said it would not ban a fan who was first identified by Duke’s Blue Devils as having used racial insults during the match because no evidence was found that the person actually used them. “BYU sincerely apologizes to this fan for any hardship the ban has caused,” the statement said.
In a statement from Duke, Nina King, the university’s vice president and director of athletics, said the school sided with the women’s volleyball team, but did not address the university’s role in the investigation or who may have been interviewed by BYU.
“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. “We stand by and support them unequivocally, especially when their character is questioned. Duke Athletics believes in respect, equality and inclusion, and we do not tolerate hatred and prejudice.”
After the allegations were made during the match, a police officer was placed on Duke’s bench for the remainder of the match. Duke also changed the venue of one of the later championship matches from George Albert Smith Fieldhouse from BYU to a location in Provo, Utah, in an effort to create a safer atmosphere for both teams.
On September 2, Don Staley, coach of the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team, said it was canceling scheduled matches against BYU, including the season’s opening game on November 7, due to the behavior described in the volleyball game.
“As head coach, my job is to do what’s best for the players and staff,” said Staley, who in April became the first black person to win both NCAA championships as head coach.
In a new statement on Friday, Staley defended not playing matches.
“I still stand by my position,” she said. “After my personal research, I made a decision about the well-being of my team.” She added that she regretted that the University of South Carolina and its athletic director “were drawn to criticism of a choice I made.”
BYU is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The student community consists mostly of whites and Mormons. Less than one percent of the students are black. The school has struggled to create an inclusive environment for its students of color, According to a February 2021 report by a university committee that studied race on campus.
Alan Blinder Contribute to the preparation of reports.
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