This story about a racial slur being shouted at a college volleyball game has gotten complicated

Source: Hot Air

It started out as a pretty simple but unpleasant story. Last Friday night there was a college volleyball game between the women’s teams for Brigham Young University and Duke University. The Duke team has a starting player named Rachel Richardson who is black (that’s her in the photo above). According to her family, someone in the crowd on the BYU side was yelling the N-word at her every time she got up to serve the ball. The allegations initially appeared on Twitter and the Salt Lake Tribune reported it the next day.

Lesa Pamplin, Richardson’s godmother, said every time Richardson served the ball during the match between Duke and BYU, a fan in the BYU student section shouted the racial slur. At one point in the match, Pamplin said, Richardson was also “threatened by a white male.”

“My Goddaughter is the only Black starter for Dukes volleyball team,” Pamplin wrote on Twitter. “While playing yesterday, she was called a n— 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.”

Richardson’s father, Marvin Richardson, said BYU did not kick the fan out of the event, allowing the behavior to continue throughout the match. When Duke players complained to referees about the behavior, a police officer was placed on the bench. Both coaching staffs were made aware of the situation, Richardson said, but the match was not stopped.

LeBron James reacted to the story on Twitter.

For its part, BYU said it did identify someone sitting in the student section and that individual has been banned from attending future games. They also apologized for not acting to address the problem during the game.

BYU’s athletic director also issued his own statement and gave a speech the next morning saying he’d met with Rachel Richardson and calling on everyone who attended BYU athletic events to show respect for their guests. “Cheer ’em on as loud as you can but do not cross the line where you would hurt or harm anyone in any way.”

Based on the initial story all of that seemed appropriate. That speech took place on Saturday. On Sunday, Richardson herself posted a statement about what happened on her own Twitter account.

But the story has taken a bit of a turn. Yesterday the BYU student paper published a story contradicting some of the claims about what happened at the game.

The Cougar Chronicle was contacted yesterday by a source inside the BYU athletic department who told a different story. They have asked for their name to be kept private to avoid discipline from BYU athletics. They will be referred to as Connor. Connor explained:

“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 video of the match shows that Rachael Richardson served on the ROC (student section) side twice in the game. Both serves were during the fourth set. A police officer can be seen standing by the ROC section monitoring the students as Richardson serves. Richardson did not mention this officer in her statement.

The Cougar Chronicle has been unable to find a source in the student section that can corroborate Richardson’s claim of racial slurs being yelled at her. 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. A mother of a BYU student says she personally knows five people who were in the student section during the game “One person was on the court and the others were in the first row” she told the Chronicle. None of them heard a racial slur. Two other people on the court, who wish to remain anonymous, did not hear any racial slurs.

Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence, as they say. Still, it’s odd that no one heard it. The same student newspaper piece claims that neither Richardson’s godmother Lesa Pamplin nor her father Marvin Richardson were present at the game. So they were apparently getting all of this second hand from Rachel. They didn’t hear it happen themselves.

Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribune also published a follow up story which included statements from the police about the man who was banned for allegedly shouting the slurs.

BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer said Tuesday that based on an initial review of surveillance footage of the crowd, the individual who was banned wasn’t shouting anything while the Duke player was serving.

“When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him,” he said…

“Various BYU Athletics employees have been reviewing video from BYUtv and other cameras in the facility that the volleyball team has access to for film review. This has been ongoing since right after the match on Friday night,” BYU Associate Athletic Director Jon McBride said in a statement. “The person who was banned was the person identified by Duke as using racial slurs. However, we have been unable to find any evidence of that person using slurs in the match.”

There’s also this about the officer who was stationed near the stands.

According to the police report, BYU told an officer about the issue during the third set of the match and elected to put a police officer near the Duke bench before the fourth set. No one identified the person making the slurs at that time, the officer said…

The officer said in his report he didn’t personally hear any slurs while he was visibly standing there, listening. He said all he heard was BYU fans calling specific Duke players by their first names.

This has really become a fairly big story online but it seems many people never heard the slurs and no one identified who was doing the shouting during the game. The person who was banned from future games almost certainly was not responsible because there’s video of him playing with his phone quietly during the time when Richardson said the shouting was the worst.

BYU has asked anyone with evidence to turn it over so they can identify the person responsible but so far no one has been identified.