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Duke Volleyball's Rachel Richardson Responds to Racist Slurs, Threats from BYU Fans

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 28, 2022

Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson addressed the racist abuse she suffered during a match against BYU on Friday.

"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," she wrote. "The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe. 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."

rachel richards @rachrich03

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/morethanavolleyballplayer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#morethanavolleyballplayer</a> <a href="https://t.co/JJsofA6VgI">pic.twitter.com/JJsofA6VgI</a>

Richardson added she and her teammates "had to struggle just to get through the rest of the game, instead of just being able to focus on our playing so that we could compete at the highest level possible."

Richardson also addressed how "some people would have liked more to happen in the moment, so as an immediate protest and refusal to play on" amid the racist abuse. She explained she "refused to allow those racist bigouts to feel any degree of satisfaction from thinking that their comments had 'gotten to me.'"

Lesa Pamplin, Richardson's godmother, first detailed what happened (warning: tweets contain a racist slur). She said a BYU fan called Richardson the N-word and threatened her during the match.

Marvin Richardson, Rachel's father, corroborated the account in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune's Kevin Reynolds.

He questioned why security personnel didn't eject the fan because Duke players had alerted referees to what was going on. He also thought placing a police officer on the bench only illustrated the magnitude of the situation.

"I don't know why you would ask a police officer to stand on the floor unless there is a fear that something is going on that shouldn't be happening," Marvin said. "I believe that was the case."

BYU issued a statement Saturday. The school said the fan in question isn't a BYU student and has been banned from all university athletic venues.

BYU Cougars @BYUCougars

Official statement from BYU Athletics. <a href="https://t.co/5bIwXNwr7J">pic.twitter.com/5bIwXNwr7J</a>

"To say we are extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans in last night's volleyball match in the Smith Fieldhouse between BYU and Duke is not strong enough language," BYU said. "We will not tolerate behavior of this kind."

Duke director of athletics Nina King released a statement as well, saying Blue Devils athletes "should always have the opportunity to compete in an inclusive, anti-racist environment which promotes equality and fair play."

Duke was originally scheduled to play Rider in its next game Saturday at Smith Fieldhouse. King said the game would be moved to a new location in Provo, Utah, in response to what happened Friday night.

The Blue Devils beat Rider 3-1, with Richardson posting three aces.

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