South Carolina cancels women’s basketball series with BYU over racial slur incident

Last Friday, Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson said she was called the N-word by someone in BYU’s student section.

One week after Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson said she was called a racial slur at BYU, South Carolina women’s basketball pulled out of its home-and-home series with the university.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” South Carolina head coach Dawn 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.”

South Carolina was scheduled to visit Provo in 2023-24 after hosting the Cougars this November. There are currently no plans to reschedule the series.

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

BYU continues to say it is investigating Richardson’s complaints, but campus police and athletics officials have said they do not believe they have found the person who called Richardson the slur.

BYU did ban a fan after the match for “getting in the face” of a Duke player after the game concluded. But a subsequent police report stated that the banned fan was not the one who yelled the slur.

“Let me be clear where BYU stands on this issue: racism is disgusting and unacceptable,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said yesterday. “We have worked to understand and follow-up on Rachel’s experience with sincere commitment and ongoing concern.”

Richardson said last Sunday that BYU athletics failed in its initial response to the situation and did not create a safe environment to play.

“Both officials and BYU’s 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,” Richardson wrote in a statement she posted Sunday on Twitter.

Holmoe, in an opinion piece, has since fought back on that assertion. He released his own timeline of BYU’s response late Thursday night.

“I want to address a percolating narrative that BYU (and even Duke) did not do anything to address the situation,” Holmoe wrote in a column published in the Deseret News. “... The narrative that our coaching staff didn’t take immediate action is unsubstantiated and unfair.”

BYU, and Homloe, say they do not doubt Richardson’s claim, and are continuing to go through video.

“BYU has continued to carefully review all event audio and video in search of any racist statements or behavior,” Holmoe wrote. “The game video is publicly available on BYUtv, and we welcome anyone who might have more information of any inappropriate behavior from the event to reach out to the university.”