Duke Volleyball Player Called N-Word During Match

She says she and other Black players were threatened
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2022 1:00 AM CDT
Duke Volleyball Player Called N-Word During Match
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Augustas Cetkauskas)

The n-word was hurled at a Duke University volleyball player during a Friday match at Brigham Young University, and on Sunday, she said officials didn't do a satisfactory job of dealing with the situation—either during the match or immediately afterward. "Both the officials and BYU coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game, but failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment," Rachel Richardson, the only Black starter on Duke's Blue Devils, said in a statement posted to Twitter. The other Black players were heckled as well, she says. "This is not the first time this has happened in college athletics and sadly it likely will not be the last time," she continues. "However, each time it happens we as student athletes, coaches, fans, and administrators have a chance to educate those who act in hateful ways."

The day after the match, BYU banned a fan (who is not a student but had been sitting in the student section) from all athletic venues on campus, the News & Observer reports. Players reported hearing heckling from multiple people in the stands, but could only identify one person, officials say. Richardson says the heckling eventually escalated to threats, and her godmother, lawyer Lesa Pamplin, tweeted that a white male yelled that Richardson better watch her back on her way to the team bus. Pamplin later said the male was an adult who had two children with him, Yahoo News reports. After the story went viral, BYU apologized, but Pamplin wasn't satisfied with that: "Not one freaking adult did anything to protect her. I’m looking at you @BYU. You allowed this racist behavior to continue without intervening. Apologizing to her parents after the fact is not enough."

Richardson, for her part, is the clear "hero" in one of the "uglier" stories to go viral lately, writes Mike Freeman at USA Today. Indeed, she wrote in her statement that she "refused to allow [the racial slurs] to to stop me from doing what I love to do and what I came to BYU to do; which was to play volleyball." "To say we are extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans in last night’s volleyball match in Smith Fieldhouse between BYU and Duke is not strong enough language," a BYU statement says. "We will not tolerate behavior of this kind. Specifically, the use of a racial slur at any of our athletic events is absolutely unacceptable and BYU athletics holds a zero-tolerance approach to this behavior." BYU ended up winning the match 3-1. (More Duke University stories.)

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