Brigham Young University has found no evidence that a fan they banned for life, ever yelled the N-word at a Duke volleyball player. As a result, the school apologized to the fan.
The man was banned from the university after 19-year-old Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson pointed him out and told school officials that he repeatedly yelled the n-word at her and threatened her safety during the BYU-Duke women’s volleyball game on August 26.
— rachel ♡ (@rachrich03) August 28, 2022
BYU acted quickly to remove the man from the campus and banned him after Richardson’s accusations. But an investigation spearheaded by the Brigham Young University Police found no evidence to substantiate Richardson’s accusations.
In light of that investigation, the university reversed its ban and officially apologized to the man.
In its statement, BYU noted that it takes accusations of racism seriously and based its initial actions on that commitment. However, recent evidence suggests that the move was wrongheaded.
“We reviewed all available video and audio recordings, including security footage and raw footage from all camera angles taken by BYUtv of the match, with broadcasting audio removed (to ensure that the noise from the stands could be heard more clearly),” the statement explains. “We also reached out to more than 50 individuals who attended the event: Duke athletic department personnel and student-athletes, BYU athletic department personnel and student-athletes, event security and management and fans who were in the arena that evening, including many of the fans in the on-court student section.
“From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event. As we stated earlier, we would not tolerate any conduct that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe. That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation,” the statement added.
“As a result of our investigation,” the school said, “we have lifted the ban on the fan who was identified as having uttered racial slurs during the match. We have not found any evidence that that individual engaged in such an activity. BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any hardship the ban has caused.”
The school also tried to head off claims that the investigation was less than thorough.
“There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review. To the contrary, we have tried to be as thorough as possible in our investigation, and we renew our invitation for anyone with evidence contrary to our findings to come forward and share it,” the statement insisted.
The school closed its statement by reiterating its commitment to a zero-tolerance policy for racism.