Another day, another racial hoax attempted and foiled. It turns out that allegations by Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson — as well as her mother and godmother — that BYU fans hurled racist slurs and taunts at Duke players during a match played at BYU could not be corroborated despite an exhaustive investigation by BYU and Duke officials.
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.
All that outrage over racist taunts that were never made? Looks that way.
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.
The really sad part of this is that the young man who found himself banned from BYU athletics for life is autistic and was only trying to get the attention of the players. He apparently approached the Duke sideline and was perceived as a threat.
Police talked to the man, who’s identified in the report as a Utah Valley University student, and he denied shouting any slurs; he said the only thing he yelled was that the players “shouldn’t hit the ball into the net.” He acknowledged that he did approach the Duke player after the match, thinking she was a friend of his who played for BYU (their uniforms are the same color, the officer noted).
Rachel Richardson claimed that she and her black teammates were “targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match.”
“The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe,” Richardson wrote. “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,” she claimed.
In a follow-up video (below) she claimed that it was only during the second set that she first heard a racial slur and then heard it again the second time she served during the second set. She does not mention the slur being used at all during the three times she served during the third set.
The “racial slurs and heckling…grew more extreme,” Richardson claimed.
And nobody else noticed? Or heard it?
Texas lawyer Lesa Pamplin, Richardson’s godmother chimed in on Twitter: “My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Dukes volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called a n*gger every time she served.” I guess Duke and BYU investigators missed that too.
But there are still no consequences for lying about racism, racist attacks, or “racial heckling.” In fact, the BYU statement encourages it.
There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review. 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.
Despite being unable to find supporting evidence of racial slurs in the many recordings and interviews, we hope that all those involved will understand our sincere efforts to ensure that all student-athletes competing at BYU feel safe. As stated by Athletics Director Tom Holmoe, BYU and BYU Athletics are committed to zero-tolerance of racism, and we strive to provide a positive experience for everyone who attends our athletic events, including student-athletes, coaches and fans, where they are valued and respected.
A couple of suspensions and/or expulsions will tamp down the enthusiasm of people who use race hoaxes to gain celebrity or notoriety. Not that it will ever happen. But it needs to.