In the wake of a racist incident at a home BYU volleyball match, South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley canceled the Gamecocks’ upcoming home-and-home series against the Cougars.
BYU was due to visit South Carolina on Nov. 7, and the programs were scheduled for a rematch in Provo, Utah, at an undetermined date the following season.
“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement. “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.”
On Aug. 26, the Duke women’s volleyball team was playing at BYU when the Blue Devils’ Rachel Richardson was subjected to multiple racial slurs.
Richardson posted the next day on Twitter, “Friday night in our match against Brigham Young University my fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match. 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.”
Staley replied to Richardson’s tweet on Sunday, “Rachel you and your teammates are incredibly brave. This is one more hurdle Black athletes have to leap because they are Black. Rachel … your mental strength and endurance should not have been tested in this manner … but when it was you passed. Godspeed to you all!”
The BYU athletic department apologized for the incident on Aug. 27 and announced that one fan involved was banned for life. The investigation is reportedly ongoing.
“To say we are extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans in last night’s volleyball match in the Smith Fieldhouse between BYU and Duke is not strong enough language,” the athletic department wrote in a statement. “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.
“We want BYU athletic events to provide a safe environment for all, and there is no place for behaviors like this in our venues.”
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner agreed with Staley’s decision to cancel the series with BYU.
“Dawn and I have discussed her thoughts on the situation,” 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.”
The Gamecocks, who are the defending national champions, will seek a substitute opponent for the Nov. 7 game, according to the athletic department.
–Field Level Media
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