Duke’s volleyball game in Utah moved after racist abuse hurled at black player

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March 14, 2022; Dayton, Ohio, USA; NCAA logo seen on a microphone during practice the day before the start of the first four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at UD Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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Aug 27 (Reuters) – Saturday’s Duke University women’s volleyball game was moved to another location in Provo, Utah, after racial slurs were hurled at a black player in the crowd during Friday’s game with BYU, school officials said.

The incident prompted BYU to apologize and ban a fan identified as the perpetrator.

Lesa Pamplin, godmother of the Black Duke player, wrote on Twitter that playing her 19-year-old goddaughter, Rachel Richardson, was the victim of racial slurs every time she served.

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“She was threatened by a white man who told her to watch her heading towards the team bus. A policeman had to be placed next to their bench,” Pamplin tweeted. She confirmed the account in an interview with Reuters.

“A lot of adults have let my goddaughter down,” Pamplin said in a statement. “Every American should be furious that a young woman has been subjected to hateful and demeaning language.”

Duke vice president and athletic director Nina King said in a statement that “extremely unfortunate circumstances” forced him to change the venue for Saturday’s game against Rider “in order to provide both teams the ‘safest atmosphere for competition’. She said players should always be able to play in an “inclusive and anti-racist environment”.

In a statement, BYU said it is totally committed to eradicating racism and has banned a Duke-identified fan from all BYU Athletic venues.

In a subsequent email to Reuters, BYU said after game officials spent hours reviewing video of the event and speaking with event management and security personnel.

BYU said that when “last night’s behavior was initially reported by Duke, no individuals were reported and despite the efforts of BYU Security and Event Management, they were unable to to identify a perpetrator of racial slurs”.

After the game, BYU said, “An individual was identified by Duke who they believe was slurring and exhibiting problematic behavior. This is the individual who was banned.”

The school said the attacker sat in the BYU student section but was not a BYU student.

BYU said the Duke players “felt unsafe and hurt, and we were unable to address this issue during the game in a sufficient manner. For this, we truly apologize, and are reviewing our process and our practices to do everything in our power to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

The incident was condemned on social media. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted in support of Richardson: “We’re getting her back. This isn’t sport.”

Duke did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment on the incident. The BYU Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Duke won Saturday’s game against Rider 3-1, its first victory of the season. Richardson led the team with three aces.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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