BYU Under Fire For Allegations of Racism By Duke Women’s Volleyball Player

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A Friday night NCAA women’s volleyball match between BYU and Duke was mired by an alleged act of racism.

Rachel Richardson, a 19-year-old African American sophomore player for the Blue Devils, was reportedly called the N-word by a non-student fan sitting in BYU’s student section at Smith Fieldhouse.

Richardson is the daughter of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Deputy Director Marvin G. Richardson and goddaughter to Lesa Pamplin, a circuit court judge candidate running in Fort Worth, Texas.

Pamplin, whose platform has avidly called for racial reform in America, tweeted out her account of what happened Friday night during the raucous face-off between the Cougars and Blue Devils. Pamplin claimed that every time her goddaughter went to serve for Duke, a “white male” in the BYU volleyball student section shouted derogatory terms at her and threatened Richardson harm.

“My Goddaughter is the only Black starter for Dukes volleyball team,” Pamplin tweeted. “While playing yesterday, she was called a n****r every time she served. She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus. A police officer had to be put by their bench.”

BYU responded by banning the fan from attending any on-campus athletic events. Still, Pamplin drilled BYU and their fans for seemingly allowing racist behavior. Richardson commented that BYU officials should have acted more swiftly during the game.

Response From BYU Volleyball, AD

Ahead of Saturday’s game between BYU volleyball and Washington State, Cougars athletic director Tom Holmoe addressed fans and said, “The process to get better and heal has already begun.”


BYU also provided a statement:

“We will not tolerate behavior of this kind. Specifically, the use of a racial slur at any of our athletic events is absolutely unacceptable and BYU Athletics holds a zero-tolerance approach to this behavior,” the statement read. “We wholeheartedly apologize to Duke University and especially its student-athlete competing last night for what they experienced. We want BYU athletic events to provide a safe environment for all, and there is no place for behaviors like this in our venues.”

Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson.

Rachel Richardson also provided a statement on Sunday via Twitter:

BYU Fan’s Identity Is Not Yet Known

BYU has provided no additional insight regarding the banned fan’s identity. BYU volleyball’s online stream of the game showcased multiple angles of the student section.


Related to the incident, Duke relocated Saturday’s matchup against Rider from Smith Fieldhouse to a nearby gym.

“First and foremost, our priority is the well-being of Duke student-athletes,” announced Duke athletic director Nina King. “They should always have the opportunity to compete in an inclusive, anti-racist environment which promotes equality and fair play. Following extremely unfortunate circumstances at Friday night’s match at BYU, we are compelled to shift today’s match against Rider to a different location to afford both teams the safest atmosphere for competition.”

A record 5,507 fans showed up to Smith Fieldhouse, and BYU volleyball beat Duke, 3-1.

OutKick reached out for comment from BYU’s Athletic Department but did not hear back before this story posted.

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Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan that has watched every movie.


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  1. If this is true story the fan definitely should not be saying that most inappropriate now having said that they call each other that all the time and there is a huge double standard regarding the so called N word if its ok for some its okay for all its called free speech but in this setting totally out of line and uncalled for

  2. I’m calling BS on this. No major college Athletic Dept in 2022 would tolerate this. They would have usher / security on this guy within seconds. Other fans in the vicinity would complain immediately. Yes … there may have been one jackass fan … but the Duke player’s family is exploiting this for “political purpose”. …. Yeah, I realize that is hard to believe !!!!!

  3. I’m on the fence about this one. Given modern society’s demand for stories like this I am skeptical but on the other hand fans/general public are capable of doing dumb shit, even if it’s only a few bad apples out of a couple thousand fans. You also can’t overlook that her family has some pull and appear to be the activist type so this whole incident could certainly be trumped up into something more than what it actually was. If it is 100% authentic, seems like a strange venue to heckle (women’s volleyball??). Also, as stated above (Bob), if dude was dropping hard R’s non-stop I find it hard to believe no one in attendance would check the guy or complain to security, OR that no one would whip out a smart phone and film the guy.

    As for Rachel herself, I feel for her if her story is authentic. 100% agree with her stating that one fan is not a reflection on BYU as a whole or their players. She loses me when she hops on the CRT train. BYU staff and players shouldn’t be compelled to undergo “education & training” because some dumbass in the stands said mean things. “It is not enough to indicate you are not racist, instead you must demonstrate you are anti-racist”.

    Nahh.. Lost me there, Kendi X. I want to be on your side in this but miss me with the white guilt, pandering, and sanctimonious virtue signaling. I don’t own anyone of any race or creed shit besides treating them with respect until they give me reason not to. The whole concept of guilty until proven innocent (i.e. proving your not racist) is pathetic and antithetical to MLK’s worldview. Our only job in this scenario is to put the dumbass in the stands in check. And that responsibility goes for anyone when someone is blatantly crossing the line.

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