Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson praises BYU AD for his actions after racial slur incident involving Cougars fan

Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson opened up about how a spate of racial slurs during a game last week at BYU became national news in an interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe that aired Tuesday, and reflected on how it’s changing her life Has.

Richardson posted a statement on Twitter on Sunday, two days after fans shouted racial slurs at her while she was serving. “No athlete of any race should ever be subjected to such hostile conditions,” she wrote at the time. BYU banned a fan from all on-campus athletic venues on Saturday, the day after the game, and said the athletic department had a “zero-tolerance approach to this behavior.”

The fan was not a student, but sat in the student section.

Richardson told Rowe the incidents began in the second set when she was serving. She said she was used to crowds trying to intimidate opposing players but tonight was different.

“I heard a very strong, negative racial slur,” Richardson said. “…So I served the ball, got through the game. And then the next time I went back to serve, I heard it extremely clearly again, but that was the end of the game.”

She said she told her coaches about the incident between games, and the teams switched ends of the floor. She said she saw her coaches speak to BYU officials who she thought responded to the incident. “We were told someone was speaking to the student section and I was fine, so, and that was the end,” Richardson said. “And we played our third set on the opposite side of the net from them.”

In the fourth sentence, she said the “atmosphere of the student department has changed”. Richardson called the crowd’s insults and heckling “more extreme, more intense.” She said the man who was eventually disqualified from BYU athletics was recording things on his phone and “we felt very uncomfortable with him, especially.”

After the game, which BYU won by three sets to one, Richardson returned to the team hotel. The Blue Devils’ next game against Rider has been moved to a different location.

Richardson praised BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, who she said came to see her at the team’s hotel the next morning.

“One thing I can say is that he’s probably one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met,” she said. “I felt very heard and seen during this conversation.

“I could see how sorry he was and honestly shocked that it happened.”

Richardson said Holmoe told her he would be reaching out to the student department to “make players feel more comfortable in general.”

Holmoe later said: “I felt compelled to speak to our fans in attendance and address the very unfortunate incident that happened last night. Cougar nation, we need to get better and we need to have the courage to look out for each other and our guests at our BYU sporting events.”

BYU made changes to its fan code of conduct starting with a football game on Monday. Even volleyball fans will not sit behind their opponents on the baseline.

Richardson had been in a whirlwind since the incident and returned to Duke to start classes. She spoke to Rowe after taking a finance class.

“I believe God puts you in places, near certain people, for certain reasons, at certain times,” Richardson said. “And I believe that and my teammates that for some reason my name was the one that got blown up and I with all my heart [believe] that’s because God had a purpose behind it. And that purpose was that maybe he knew I would be able to show compassion to people. And I don’t want BYU to be singled out or seen as a bad institution because of that one thing…that doesn’t represent the entire university of BYU.

She knows many will be watching Duke’s undergraduate basketball team, the Cameron Crazies, who are known to be some of the toughest home crowds in the sport. But she said it would be different with Duke.

“The moment something like that happens at a basketball game, you know, Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] closed the game, got the mic and thought if you do that you have to get out or [we’re] stop the game,” Richardson said.

Holmoe told Rowe that BYU operates an in-house athletic department for race and equality education and is working on plans to expand it to students and fans. He also said that going forward, the school will empower coaches and student-athletes to stop a game and not continue until issues have been reviewed and action taken.

Richardson said in her Twitter statement that she didn’t want the game stopped because “I refused to allow these racist fanatics to feel any level of satisfaction because they thought their comments were ‘to me came’. So I prevailed and finished the game.”

She told Rowe she was glad she made the decision.

“I think when you meet anger with anger, it just starts a cycle of more anger,” Richardson said. “As a young black woman in America, I know I don’t have the privilege of reacting all the time otherwise it paints this face of, oh you’re just another angry black woman and you know, my black male colleagues, you.” don’t have that privilege either, or it’s just, oh, that’s like an aggressive angry black guy.

She said her parents taught her to “be aware of how one is perceived” and to be respectful.

“In light of, oh, that’s just another black person. Like, no, they have to see me as a person, a person that they’re forced to respect me,” Richardson said. “And that’s exactly what I wanted in that game. I could have turned around and said nasty things back. I could have done anything. I could have been rude to the sporting director when he was kind enough to speak to me in person.

“I could have been rude when I spoke to the BYU coach, but no, that’s not getting you anywhere. I could point the finger and say I [want] BYU volleyball is closing. I want that victory taken away from them. No, because that doesn’t help anyone. That won’t help. And that would, that would reduce it all back to one situation.”

Richardson added: “…It was just a bad situation that was handled poorly. However, people have apologized. We can move on. Now we’re starting to be proactive. Now we’re starting to take steps in the right direction We can move on from that. You know, I already told the coach and the sporting director, you know, I forgive you and it wasn’t your fault that it happened. It was your fans. So you didn’t do anything to me. “

Richardson said she’s heard from volleyball players and other athletes and students at BYU.

“I don’t even want them to be embarrassed,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened there, but the fact that they feel comfortable enough to reach out to me and let me know they still support me just shows they are really good people.”

https://www.espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/34488855/duke-volleyball-player-rachel-richardson-praises-byu-ad-actions-racial-slur-incident-involving-cougars-fan Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson praises BYU AD for his actions after racial slur incident involving Cougars fan

Emma Bowman

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