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Fan suspended after allegedly hurling racist comments and threats at Duke volleyball player during game in Utah

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A Duke University women’s volleyball player was called racist and threatened during a game against Brigham Young University in Utah on Friday, resulting in a fan being banned from sporting events, her family and the school said.

Rachel Richardson, a black starter on Duke’s team, was called the n-word “every time she served” and was threatened by “a white man who told her to see her go back to the team bus,” her godmother . Lesa Pamplin said on social media:.

A police officer had to be placed at the Duke team’s bank as a result of the alleged harassment, Pamplin said.

The game drew a crowd of more than 5,000 people at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah.

Gloria Richardson, Rachel’s mother, told NBC News that her daughter called her crying Friday night.

“To make our strong independent daughter call and cry…. it hurt. She didn’t feel safe,” she says.

She said that her daughter, a sophomore from Ellicott City, Maryland, initially did not tell her parents or coach about the intervention. After the second game, the umpires had a police officer come down.

“She was incredibly scared,” her mother said. “It was just really scary for her. Here you have over 5,500 people at this match all in Blue. She just felt singled out.”

“Aside from the ‘N-word’…she got constant boos when she served. Her white teammates didn’t understand that. Her back was against the fans…and all she heard (sic) was her name and n- word She didn’t turn around,” Gloria continued.

Rachel, an outside hitter, was eventually met with the BYU athletic director who said the suspect had been identified and described as not a BYU student but someone else’s guest. She was also sure it was one person who had said the slur, according to Gloria.

The incident affected not only Richardson but her Black teammates as well.

“The other black girls felt unsafe and cried,” Gloria said. “The black team members felt threatened and singled out.”

BYU confirmed the incident on Saturday, saying a fan, who is not a BYU student, has been banned from all athletic venues.

“When a student athlete or fan comes to a BYU sporting event, we expect them to be treated with love and respect and to feel safe on our campus. It is for this reason that BYU banned a fan identified by Duke during last night’s volleyball game from all BYU athletic venues. Although this fan was in the student section of BYU, this person is not a BYU student,” the school said:.

The school apologized to Duke University and its student athletes who were involved in the game.

“To say that we are extremely disheartened by the actions of a small number of fans during last night’s volleyball game … is not strong enough,” the statement said. is absolutely unacceptable and BYU Athletics is taking a zero-tolerance approach to this behavior,” the statement said.

“We want BYU athletic events to provide a safe environment for everyone, and there is no place for this kind of behavior at our venues,” the statement concluded.

After Friday’s incident, Duke’s Saturday game, which was scheduled to take place at the same BYU field house, was moved to a different location.

“Our priority is the well-being of Duke’s student athletes first and foremost,” said Nina King, Duke’s vice president and director of athletics.

“Due to extremely unfortunate circumstances during Friday night’s game at BYU, we have been forced to move today’s game against Rider to a different location in order to provide both teams with the safest atmosphere for competition,” she said.

She added that she has been in contact with the student-athletes “who are deeply affected” and “will continue to support them in every way possible”.

The Rider University women’s volleyball team shared a message of support for Richardson ahead of their Saturday game by writing her jersey number on their wrists.

“As we prepare to play” @DukeVB this afternoon we are fully behind Rachel. We are playing for #3 today. There is no place for racism on or off the pitch,” the team said in a statement tweet.


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