Brigham Young University said there was no evidence that fans racially heckled Duke volleyball players, despite a Black athlete's prior claims that the school failed to stop racial slurs and harassment during a match, per NBC News.
On Friday (September 9), BYU Athletics said in a statement that the program conducted an "extensive review" into the August 26 match and found no evidence "to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event.”
Duke University volleyball Rachel Richardson previously alleged on Twitter that she and her Black teammates were "racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match."
Richardson said that heckling from fans "grew into threats," making her team "feel unsafe." She also claimed that BYU officials failed to intervene and stop the harassment.
Lesa Pamplin, the volleyball player's godmother, added that Richardson was called the N-word “every time she served" in a tweet following the match.
Yet, BYU made a dramatic reversal Friday from its initial response to the allegations.
The program reversed its decision to ban a fan that was believed to have engaged in the heckling.
"We have not found any evidence that that individual engaged in such an activity," the athletics department said. "BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any hardship the ban has caused."
According to the school, officials reviewed video and audio recordings and conducted more than 50 interviews with fans, athletes, and personnel that attended the match.
“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," the statement said.
“There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review," the statement continues. "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."
Duke University Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King said the program still "unequivocally stands" with Richardson and her teammates, despite BYU's findings.
“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 unequivocally stand with and champion them, especially when their character is called into question."
"Duke Athletics believes in respect, equality, and inclusiveness, and we do not tolerate hate and bias," she added.
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