BYU’s racism allegation leads to cancellation of game with South Carolina

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The defending women’s national basketball champion, the South Carolina Gamecocks, called off their home-and-away series with Brigham Young University because of a racial slur a Duke volleyball player said being thrown at her by a member of the crowd during an August 26 game in Provo, Utah.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what is best for my players and my staff. The incident at BYU has caused me to re-evaluate our house and our home, and I don’t think now is the right time for us to commit to this series,” said South Carolina coach Dawn Staley. , a Hall of Famer who won three Olympic gold medals with Team USA and then won a fourth as a coach in 2020.

BYU’s women’s basketball Twitter account responded with a statement.

“We are extremely disappointed with South Carolina’s decision to cancel our series and ask for patience with the ongoing investigation,” the statement read. “We believe the solution is to work together to eradicate racism and not separate from each other.”

Staley won two NCAA championships in South Carolina, in 2017 and 2022.

BYU had not released its 2022-23 women’s basketball schedule, but South Carolina’s press release said the teams were scheduled to play the Gamecocks’ season opener Nov. 7 at Columbia’s Colonial Life Arena, in South Carolina.

Teams were scheduled to play BYU in 2023-24.

BYU has been under fire since Duke outside forward Rachel Richardson said she heard “a very strong, negative racial slur” from the ROC student chapter behind her all four times she served in a game at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse on August 26.

Richardson said she first heard the insults when she served two balls at different times during the second set of the four-set match that No. 7 BYU won 3-1. After the set, she told a teammate what she had heard as the teams changed sides, and the teammate advised her to talk to Duke coach Jolene Nagel about it.

Nagel informed BYU volleyball coach Heather Olmstead of the incident, and Olmstead immediately took action, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in an op-ed published by Deseret News.

Four staff members and a BYU uniformed police officer were placed in the student section, where they were later joined by a Duke athletic administrator.

Richardson said the insults escalated when she served twice again in the fourth set, but the cop didn’t hear them, according to the lengthy police report he filed. Staff members and apparently Duke’s athletic administrator also didn’t hear any insults, Holmoe said.

Richardson tweeted a statement after the game in which she alleged BYU failed to take immediate action. Some criticized her and Duke’s coaches and players for not getting the team off the ground during the game.

Others, like ESPN’s Michael Irvin on the network’s “First Take,” incorrectly assumed that the slurs could be heard throughout the gym and that fans, coaches, players, administrators and other staff from BYU stood there after hearing them.

However, no video or audio captured any evidence of the slurs. The game, which sold out and set a viewing record with 5,507 fans, was broadcast live on a national cable network, BYUtv, and the broadcast is available on BYUtv.org and on YouTube.

“Video of the game is publicly available on BYUtv, and we urge anyone who may have more information about any inappropriate behavior from the event to contact the university,” Holmoe wrote. “But the narrative that our coaching staff failed to take immediate action is unfounded and unfair.”

Another sports personality called the incident a hoax.

BYUHolmoe and Olmstead apologized to Richardson, and Holmoe met Richardson personally.

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