After an alleged incident at Brigham Young University’s Smith Fieldhouse between the BYU volleyball team and Duke over a racist slur aimed at Blue Devils starter Rachel Richardson, the team’s only African-American starter, reports were quick to deliver a story pouncing on BYU for enabling racism.
A new report by The Cougar Chronicle — BYU’s conservative-leaning student newspaper operated independently of the school — challenges that narrative. The Chronicle’s reporting comes after speaking with an unnamed source at BYU’s athletics department.
The Chronicle spoke with several sources who claimed that the banned fan — who has yet to be identified by BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe — did not yell a racial slur before getting escorted out of the game. Instead, the fan was escorted out due to “interfering with guests” rather than for shouting derogatory terms at Richardson.
Following the incident, BYU released a statement noting that the non-student fan in attendance had been banned, without providing a description of the “white male” referenced by Richardson.
BYU Has Not Identified ‘White Male’ Fan Who Was Banned
In order to identify the prohibited fan, OutKick separately reached out to both BYU’s athletics department and West Coast Conference officials, including commissioner Gloria Nevarez. BYU did not respond to our inquiries. The WCC referred to a previous statement saying that conference wouldn’t comment on the ongoing investigation.
BYU released the following statement regarding their ban:
“Following Friday night’s volleyball game, we spent hours reviewing video of the event to try and figure out what exactly [happened]…
“We understand that the Duke players’ experience is what matters here. They felt unsafe and hurt, and we were unable to address that during the game in a manner that was sufficient. For that, we truly do apologize.”
OutKick provided both BYU’s athletics department and WCC with the following questions that remain unanswered:
- Did your investigation verify any racial slur spoken and directed at the Duke player?
- If so, what was the word or words used?
- Were there any eyewitnesses who verified the racial slurs?
- Did any fans or anyone else confront the person using racial slurs?
- Did any fans or anyone else record the person using racial slurs?
- Did anyone from the BYU female volleyball team verify they heard the racial slurs?
- Who was the person banned as a result of your investigation?
- What was the stated reason for the ban?
Chronicle’s Version Of What Happened At BYU Volleyball Match
The Chronicle spoke with students in attendance at the game near the student section where Richardson, 19, claims she heard a “white male” shout the N-word. All sides of their respective testimonies of the incident have pointed to a different story.
“Ms. Richardson complained of hearing a racial slur during the second set but did not point anyone out. Officials discussed briefly and stationed policemen there… there were no more complaints until after the match,” said the Chronicle’s anonymous source within the BYU athletic department.
A total of eight people in attendance, including one parent of a BYU student and two individuals present on the court, for Friday’s game spoke with the Chronicle and backed that no slurs were heard coming from BYU’s student section during the match’s latter sets, contrary to Richardson’s testimony. Two anonymous students sitting in the student section provided their communications with the Chronicle and maintained that they “also heard nothing.” One of the anonymous students noted that the fan escorted out of Smith Fieldhouse at the request of Richardson and the Duke team was a “mentally challenged” person.
“When a mentally challenged fan approached a Duke player,” said the Chronicle’s anonymous source, “the Duke team then suddenly recognized the handicapped man’s ‘voice’ as the same one shouting slurs. They never saw or pointed out a face, just a voice. They banned this man. Not for slurs, but for interfering with visiting guests. BYU Athletics staff went through footage of the entire game and the man Duke identified was never seated in the student section.”
Anonymous Source: ‘Her Story Doesn’t Add Up’
“Her story doesn’t add up,” the source continued. “BYU banned an innocent man to appease the mob and make their PR mess go away. While I don’t know if Ms. Richardson genuinely misheard something or intentionally made up this story, it certainly does not constitute the criticism BYU has gotten.
“There is zero evidence of a slur being said. Not a single witness, besides Ms. Richardson, has come forth. Not a single cell phone video or BYUtv’s several camera angles caught a single thing. How unlikely when this person supposedly said a slur during ‘every single serve.'”
Outkick reviewed the communications between the eyewitnesses and the Chronicle.
Lesa Pamplin, a circuit court judge candidate running in Fort Worth, Texas and godmother to Rachel Richardson, was the first person to highlight the story. Rachel’s father Marvin Richardson — a deputy director at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — also shared the story, with criticism aimed at BYU volleyball for allowing the slur and not moving quickly enough. Neither Pamplin nor Richardson were present at Friday’s game.
Stay tuned with OutKick as the story develops.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela