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Father of Duke volleyball player says she called crying after facing racial slurs at BYU game

The father of a Duke volleyball player on Monday said his daughter called crying after racial slurs were shouted at her from the stands during a match at the Utah college last week.

Marvin Richardson told CNN’s Brianna Keilar that his 19-year-old daughter Rachel Richardson called shortly after the game ended, clearly distraught.

“She was crying, she was upset, and Rachel is not the person that calls and cries over a loss,” Marvin Richardson said. “She started to tell us what was going on and what had happened during the game [and there was] anger, outrage, a real need to make sure something was done to correct that.”

Rachel Richardson, from Ellicott City, Md., said in a statement Sunday that she and other African American Duke players were “targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match” on Friday, which ended with a BYU victory.

“The slurs and comments grew into threats, which caused us to feel unsafe. Both the officials and BYU coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game, but failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment,” the volleyball player wrote. “My teammates and I had to struggle just to get through the rest of the game, instead of just being able to focus on our playing so that we could compete at the highest level possible.”

She added that the BYU athletes she was playing against “showed nothing but respect and good sportsmanship on and off the court.”

On Saturday, a day after the match, BYU Athletics announced it banned at least one fan who had shouted the racial slurs.

The fan was sitting in the student section during the game but was not a student, BYU Athletics said in a statement condemning the incident.

“We will not tolerate behavior of this kind. Specifically, the use of a racial slur at any of our athletic events is absolutely unacceptable and BYU Athletics holds a zero-tolerance approach to this behavior,” officials wrote in the statement. “We wholeheartedly apologize to Duke University and especially its student-athletes competing last night for what they experienced.”

Marvin Richardson told CNN there was more than one person shouting racial slurs during the game. He said after BYU officials were alerted to the racist insults, a police officer was stationed at the student section of the volleyball court.

Still, he said the university should have removed fans who were shouting the racist slurs to create a safer and more comfortable environment.

“It becomes the responsibility of those who are in authority to make sure the atmosphere stays safe and free from any of those kinds of elements that would prohibit people from playing at their highest level,” he said. “What I would like to see going forward is that we take every effort – make every effort – to make sure that those venues are safe and free from that kind of action. And when it interjects itself, that it is removed immediately.”

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This story was originally published August 29, 2022 11:08 AM.

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