After an extensive investigation involving over 50 eyewitness accounts, video footage and footage from BYUtv, school officials have found no evidence that a Duke Black girls volleyball player was heckled with racial slurs by someone in the BYU student section during a match between the two schools on August 26.
“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,” BYU said Friday in a statement. “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.”
The school also said it lifted a ban on a student that was accused of the slur as a result of the findings.
“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,” the statement said.
Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson had reported hearing a racial slur repeated and directed at her during the match. Richardson’s godmother also reported hearing the slur every time Richardson served during the match.
BYU told Duke of the investigation’s results before releasing the statement.
The two schools have been in close communication since the accusations were made.
BYU changed the seating arrangement for students after the report in an attempt to prevent anything like what was reported from happening again.
Richardson’s godmother Lesa Pamplin said she did not accept the results of BYU’s investigation.
“BYU’s statement today does not change my position,” Pamplin said in a statement. “In fact, the statement and the ‘findings’ are in keeping with what I — and many others — anticipated.
“Daily across America, the burden of proof — in instances like these involving people of color, as well as marginalized people, economically disadvantaged people, and disempowered people — is shifted unfairly and without hesitation.”
BYU said its investigation was thorough and that it had a zero-tolerance policy toward racism in all of its events. “There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review,” the statement reads. “To the contrary, we have tried to be as thorough as possible in our investigation, and we renew our invitation for anyone with evidence contrary to our findings to come forward and share it. Despite being unable to find supporting evidence of racial slurs in the many recordings and interviews, we hope that all those involved will understand our sincere efforts to ensure that all student-athletes competing at BYU feel safe.”