Last Updated on September 21, 2022
South Carolina Women’s Basketball head coach Dawn Staley has no regrets after cancelling her team’s games against BYU over a hate hoax. Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson claims that a BYU fan repeatedly called her a racial slur and later threatened her at the team’s bus, prompting Staley to cancel the games. No evidence of Richardson’s claims has been produced as of this time, however.
Richardson claims that a white fan yelled out the n-word every time it was her turn to serve In addition, the Duke volleyball player claims the man told her to “watch her back” outside the team’s bus following the game.
Without waiting to verify, the story was covered extensively by leftist media outlets, including ESPN. “BYU, you did it, by allowing this to happen and not addressing it expeditiously,” First Take host Stephen A. Smith said on August 29. An op-ed from MSNBC was titled, “The racism on display at Brigham Young Friday fits a historical pattern,” while CNN host Brianna Keilar said in an August 29 report that “Black players from Duke University endured racial slurs from at least one fan in the crowd.”
BYU immediately suspended a fan who Richardson accused of hurling the racial slurs. The fan — who is mentally disabled — was promptly banned from all BYU athletic events for life.
An internal probe did not find any evidence of the alleged slurs being uttered, however. The probe came after numerous spectators cast doubt on Richardson’s claims.
BYU reviewed several hours of mobile phone and surveillance footage, as well as anything that was posted on social media, but did not find any evidence of a racial slur being used. The university also interviewed over 50 individuals who attended the event, which included members of Duke’s volleyball team, event security, BYU personnel and several fans who sat in the on-court 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,” BYU wrote in a press release.
The university also lifted its ban on the accused fan after the investigation concluded.
A number of media outlets have walked back their criticism of BYU, including Stephen A. Smith. “Racism, prejudice still exist in this country. We all know it. We know how prevalent it is, and we know it is something that completely needs to be eradicated,” Smith said on September 9. “Having said that, we’re not doing ourselves any favors if we bring it up and broach it when it doesn’t exist, and that’s the key that we need to focus on.”
Dawn Staley is standing by the hate hoax, however. “I continue to stand by my position,” Staley said. “After my personal research, I made a decision for the well-being of my team. I regret that my university, my athletics director Ray Tanner and others got drawn into the criticism of a choice that I made.”
Duke athletic director Nina King also issued a statement standing by Richardson and the rest of her team. “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,” she said Friday after BYU issued its statement. “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.”