PROVO, Utah, Sept. 13, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The West Coast Conference issued a statement of support Tuesday for Brigham Young University’s investigation into allegations of racist remarks by a fan during a women’s volleyball match in Provo.
Duke outside hitter Rachel Richardson said she and her Black teammates were “targeted and racially heckled through the entirety of the match” by a fan at Smith Fieldhouse on Aug. 26.
BYU initially banned a fan from all of its athletic venues following the allegations but lifted the ban last week after the university’s internal investigation failed to corroborate allegations of racial heckling.
West Coast Conference bylaws “hold host institutions accountable for ensuring that all spectators and fans refrain from rudeness, vulgar language, remarks regarding race or gender and other unsporting conduct,” according to the WCC statement.
“Members of the Duke program reported that they heard language from fans that violated WCC sportsmanship policies during the match. Racist remarks are inappropriate, hurtful, and unacceptable. The membership of the WCC is committed to providing student-athletes safe environments in which to learn, grow and compete,” the statement continues.
Conference officials “worked closely with BYU to examine all the information and steps taken both during and in the moments and days after the match.”
“Based on our review of the information shared by BYU Athletic Department personnel, we believe BYU has conducted a transparent and thorough investigation. BYU’s inability to locate perpetrator(s) does not mean the remarks were not said,” the statement continues.
Conference officials say BYU “implemented the appropriate game management protocols during the match and has since taken the appropriate actions to thoroughly investigate this incident.”
“We also believe BYU has adopted appropriate measures and policies to help avoid future incidents. The safety and respect for one another is paramount in sport, higher education and in life,” the statement continues.
“We share BYU’s commitment to foster an inclusive environment and its pledge to further efforts to ensure everyone is treated with equal respect. The WCC and each of its member institutions stand together in this commitment to root out racism.”
Richardson tweeted Aug. 28 about her experience in Provo, saying “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. As a result, my teammates and I had to struggle to get through the rest of the game instead of just being able to focus on our playing so we could compete at the highest level possible,” the tweet states.
“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.”
The BYU Athletics Department issued an apology to Duke University and its student-athletes in a statement Aug. 27. A match that night between Duke and Rider at the doTERRA Classic was moved from the Smith Fieldhouse to an alternate location in Provo.