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Racist incident at BYU match leads USC to reschedule women's basketball game

The school made the decision following a situation at a BYU-Duke women's volleyball match.
Credit: WLTX

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks women's basketball team has dropped BYU as an opponent the next two seasons following a racist incident at a BYU-Duke volleyball game last week.

South Carolina officials announced late Friday that the Gamecocks will not play BYU in 2022 and 2023 as previously planned.. The Cougars were set to be USC's home opener on November 7. 

The decision comes after an incident at the August 26 women's volleyball match between BYU and Duke that was played at BYU's facility.  During the match Rachel Richardson, a 19-year-old Black player for Duke, said she was repeatedly subjected to racial slurs from fans. Richardson is the only Black starter on the team. 

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff," Staley said. "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.”

“Dawn and I have discussed her thoughts on the situation," South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner said in a statement. "I support Dawn and all of our coaches in their right to schedule games and opponents that are best for their teams.”

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BYU banned a fan from all athletic venues on campus a day after the match. The fan was not a student but was sitting in the student section.

Richardson said in a series of tweets that the onsite crew did not respond quickly enough to the incident. The Blue Devils' next match against Rider was moved to a different venue in Provo, Utah after the incident.

In an interview with ESPN, Richardson said she distinctly heard the slur from the same fan twice. The teams then switched sides of the floor; however, she said later in the match the slurs and heckling from other students got worse. Richardson's godmother released a statement saying Richardson was threatened. 

Richardson did have praise for BYU Athletics Director Tom Holmoe, whom she said came to her hotel room the next morning to apologize. The school later said it was updating its code of conduct for fans, including limiting how close fans can sit at volleyball matches. 

Richardson also responded to the idea that some people would have liked to see Duke's team respond quickly, such as by refusing to continue playing in what became a 3-1 victory for BYU.

“Although the heckling eventually took a mental toll on me, I refused to allow it to stop me from doing what I love to do and what I came to BYU to do: which was to play volleyball," Richardson said. "I refused to allow those racist bigots to feel any degree of satisfaction from thinking that their comments had ‘gotten to me,’ So, I pushed through and finished the game.

"Therefore, on behalf of my African American teammates and I, we do not want to receive pity or to be looked at as helpless. We do not feel as though we are victims of some tragic unavoidable event. We are proud to be young African American women; we are proud to be Duke student athletes, and we are proud to stand up against racism.”

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