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Report: BYU Students Claim No Racist Slurs Were Directed at Duke Volleyball Player

  Students and several sources have reportedly disputed Duke University student Rachel Richardson’s claim of being pelted with racial slurs ...

 Students and several sources have reportedly disputed Duke University student Rachel Richardson’s claim of being pelted with racial slurs during a recent volleyball match.

Controversy erupted this past Sunday when Richardson, who is black, claimed to having had racial slurs directed at her “throughout the entirety of the match.”

“[I] was targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match,” she said in a public statement. “The slurs and comments grew into threats… Both officials and BYU coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game, but failed to take the necessary steps… they also failed to adequately address the situation after the game.”

Richardson’s story immediately spread like wildfire, with CNN, NPR, and the New York Times covering it. BYU athletics officials also sympathized with Richardson, alleging that an unruly fan was booted from the game.

However, according to the BYU Cougar Chronicle, students who attended the game claim that they never heard a racial slur directed at Richardson while an unnamed source in the athletics department said that Richardson never pointed anyone out despite the fact police were nearby.

“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,” the unnamed source said.

The Chronicle also noted that a video of the match showed Richardson serving in the student section twice during the game, in which a “police officer can be seen standing by the ROC section monitoring the students.” The outlet further alleged that it could not “find a source in the student section that can corroborate Richardson’s claim of racial slurs being yelled at her.” From the report:

Vera Smith, a BYU student in the student section during the game, said she ‘heard absolutely nothing’ that could be taken as a racial slur.

Jacob Hanson, also a BYU student, shared texts with the Cougar Chronicle from two friends in two different parts of the student section that also heard nothing. They said they were not aware there had been a problem until after the game.

Maddy Johnson, another BYU student who was in the ROC student section, said she did not hear any racial slur said and when she saw the individual escorted out of the arena he was in a different section.

One mother also claimed that five students who were in the section near Richardson’s serve heard no racial slurs directed at her. Two anonymous people on the court also claim they did not hear racial slurs.

The anonymous source in the BYU athletics department also told the outlet that the unruly fan dejected from the game was not seated in the student section and that he was mentally handicapped.

“When a mentally challenged fan approached a Duke player. The Duke team then suddenly recognized the handicapped man’s ‘voice’ as the same one shouting slurs,” the source reportedly said. “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,” the source added. “Her story doesn’t add up, 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,” the source concluded. “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.'”
BYU athletics has stood by Richardson’s story and apologized.

“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,” the department said in a statement. 

Richardson’s story rose to national prominence after her godmother, Lesa Pamplin, drew attention to the alleged incident in a series of tweets. Pamplin did not attend the game and is both an attorney and a current candidate for a Fort Worth judicial election. Pamplin has also espoused extremist political positions on race relations in the past. A sampling of her now-protected tweets include statements like: “If you’re White you totally wouldn’t understand,” “Why does @CNN consistently interview these dumb ass white women,” and “being married to a white woman he thinks he can talk this stupid ass nonsense.” 

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