Duke Responds To BYU Investigation Concluding No Racial Slurs Were Shouted At Black Player

Duke Responds To BYU Investigation Concluding No Racial Slurs Were Shouted At Black Player

Duke University responded Friday to Brigham Young University’s (BYU) finding that there is no evidence that racial slurs were hurled at a Duke female volleyball player by saying the university stands by its athletes “when their character is called into question.”

Rachel Richardson, a black Duke volleyball player, claimed late last month that a spectator at a recent match called her racial slurs, a claim that was amplified by major publications and Richardson’s godmother, a Democrat political candidate in Texas.

“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 said in a statement on Friday. “As a result of our investigation, we have lifted the ban on the fan who was identified as having uttered racial slurs during the match. We have not found any evidence that that individual engaged in such an activity. BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any hardship the ban has caused.”

Duke University Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King released a statement saying that “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.”

“We unequivocally stand with and champion them, especially when their character is called into question,” King concluded. “Duke Athletics believes in respect, equality and inclusiveness, and we do not tolerate hate and bias.”

BYU’s finding that no racial slurs were used came after the university interviewed more than 50 people who attended the game and reviewed all available audio and video recordings they could find.

When Richardson made the unsubstantiated accusation late last month, she said that her goal was not to “call BYU’s athletics out, but rather to call them up,” as she saw this as “an opportunity to dig deep into closed cultures which tolerate amoral racist acts, such as those exhibited Friday night, and change them for the better.”

Richardson then wrote: “It is not enough to indicate that you are not racist, instead you must demonstrate that you are anti-racist.”

BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer said that based on law enforcement’s initial review of the surveillance footage of the crowd, there was no evidence that the person who was banned did what Richardson accused him of doing.

“When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him,” he said.

Besendorfer further said that no one else has come forward to say that they heard any racial slurs being shouted during the game.

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