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Rachel Richardson, the Duke women’s volleyball player who was subjected to racial slurs directed at her and teammates during a Friday match against BYU, said officials were not quick to address the situation when they were made aware of the behavior from a fan.
Richardson, a 19-year-old who is the only black starter on the Blue Devils squad, wrote in a statement on her Twitter account.
“Friday night in our match against Brigham Young University my fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match,” Richardson said. “The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe. Both of 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.
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“They also failed to adequately address the situation immediately following the game when it was brought to their attention again. No athlete, regardless of their race should ever be subject to such hostile conditions.”
BYU has since banned a fan from all athletic venues on campus in Provo, Utah, the day after the match. The fan had been heckling the Duke players in the student section despite not being a student.
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Richardson went on to add that her statement was not “in anyway [sic] a reflection of what the BYU athletics stand for.” She said Tom Holmoe, BYU athletic director, was “quick to act in a very respectful and genuine manor” once he heard about the incident.
“This is not the first time this has happened in college athletics and sadly it likely will not be the last time,” Richardson wrote.
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“We are proud to be young African American women; we are proud to be Duke student athletes, and we are proud to stand up against racism.”
BYU issued a statement Saturday about banning the fan.
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“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,” the school said. “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.”