South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley has decided to officially cancel their upcoming home-and-home series with Brigham Young University over an alleged incident in which BYU fans were accused of yelling racial slurs at a black Duke player at a volleyball game which occurred last month.
“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” said Staley in a statement to the press last Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”
South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner also stated, “Dawn and I have discussed her thoughts on the situation. I support Dawn and all of our coaches in their right to schedule games and opponents that are best for their teams.”
The alleged incident took place a month ago, in which Rachel Richardson, a Duke sophomore and member of the volleyball team, accused a BYU student of making racially charged comments in the stands throughout the match. BYU later issued an apology to Richardson shortly after the alleged situation was brought to their attention and went so far as to ban the accused fan.
“When a student-athlete or a fan comes to a BYU sporting event, we expect that they will be treated with love and respect and feel safe on our campus,” read a statement from BYU Athletics. “It is for this reason BYU has banned a fan who was identified by Duke during last night’s volleyball match from all BYU athletic venues. Although this fan was sitting in BYU’s student section, this person is not aa BYU student.”
Richardson stated that she and her teammates “were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match. The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe.”
However, when BYU Police became involved and investigated the matter, they were unable to confirm whether the accused BYU fan actually said the slur that sparked the controversy after reviewing footage from the volleyball game.
“When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him,” said BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer.
Despite the accusations stemming only from statements provided by Richardson and her godmother, the South Carolina women’s basketball team still decided not to participate in the upcoming home-at-home series.
In a tweet from BYU Women’s Hoops over the weekend responding to South Carolina’s decision, BYU stated, “We are extremely disappointed in South Carolina’s decision to cancel our series and ask for patience with the on-going investigation.”
“We believe the solution is to work together to root out racism and not to separate from one another. #LoveOneAnother.”
In a statement provided to CNN on Saturday, BYU associate athletic director Jon McBride said that “We are still investigating fan behavior as well as investigating our own response to the reported behavior.”
Do you believe South Carolina should have allowed BYU time to properly investigate the situation before deciding to cancel the game? Let us know in the comments.