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Dawn Staley: 'Gut Feeling' Led to Canceling South Carolina's Games vs. BYU

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 4, 2022

Elsa/Getty Images

South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley had a "gut feeling" that led her to cancel the team's home-and-home series with BYU.

"I slept on it a few nights, I woke up with the same gut feeling I should not put our players in that situation," she said of her decision, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).

The school announced Friday it was scrapping its original plans, a step taken after a Duke volleyball player said she was racially abused during a game against BYU.

"As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff," Staley said initially. "The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series."

The Twitter account for BYU women's basketball team said it was "extremely disappointed in South Carolina’s decision to cancel our series and ask for patience with the on-going investigation."

BYU Women's Hoops @byuwbb

We are extremely disappointed in South Carolina’s decision to cancel our series and ask for patience with the on-going investigation. We believe the solution is to work together to root out racism and not to separate from one another. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LoveOneAnother?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LoveOneAnother</a><br><br>🔗 <a href="https://t.co/gWka5vuPIj">https://t.co/gWka5vuPIj</a>

Beyond the gravity of the allegations, BYU's handling of the matter drew some criticism.

Duke's Rachel Richardson said game officials and members of the Cougars' 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."

Addressing the fans at BYU's next home game, athletic director Tom Holmoe said during his speech, "If you would have met her, you would have loved her," in reference to Richardson. The comment didn't sit well with some.

BYU Women’s Volleyball @BYUwvolleyball

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe addresses fans in attendance before tonight's game. <a href="https://t.co/UH0URY7Svx">pic.twitter.com/UH0URY7Svx</a>

Jemele Hill @jemelehill

He needed to call it what it was, which is racism. Say the word and don’t sugarcoat. Secondly, that whole bit about feeling different if they knew the Black woman who was targeted it … save it. Whether you knew her or not, this was abhorrent behavior. <a href="https://t.co/l1koe0wKr5">https://t.co/l1koe0wKr5</a>

Soledad O'Brien @soledadobrien

This apology fell short. He had an opportunity to condemn racist behavior and he failed. She was not harassed because BYU students ‘don’t know her’. The slurs were racist. This was a fail by the BYU Athletic Director. <a href="https://t.co/QVpNsjYpkK">https://t.co/QVpNsjYpkK</a>

Holmoe subsequently wrote an op-ed in Deseret News and affirmed BYU finds "racism is disgusting and unacceptable." He also defended the school's response, saying four staff members and a police officer entered the student section during the game to monitor fan behavior after BYU was first alerted to the alleged slur.

"After the game, a Duke player identified one fan as having yelled racist remarks," he said. "He was escorted out of the arena and banned from future athletic events pending review. Additionally, BYU has continued to carefully review all event audio and video in search of any racist statements or behavior."

South Carolina and BYU were originally scheduled to play Nov. 7 at Colonial Life Arena, the Gamecocks' home floor. The reigning national champions have yet to announce a replacement opponent.

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