The University of South Carolina says it doesn’t have to pay a $100,000 cancellation fee to Brigham Young University — despite pulling out of an upcoming women’s basketball series.
The east coast school was set to play a home-and-home series with BYU, starting with a game in South Carolina school in November. But in the fallout of accusations of racial slurs being shouted during a volleyball match at BYU last month, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley decided to withdraw from the matchup over concerns for her players.
Now, the school says, it owes nothing to BYU for backing out because the contract between the two institutions was “not fully executed,” according to South Carolina’s legal team. A spokesperson for the athletics department also confirmed that in a statement.
In a first draft of the contract provided to The Salt Lake Tribune in a public records request, the document shows only signatures from South Carolina but not anyone from BYU athletics. That was created on May 24 and is labeled “half executed” by the school.
An updated version of the contract was created three days later, on May 27. That upped the penalty for pulling out from the series from $25,000 to $100,000. But it doesn’t appear to have ever been signed by either university.
In an email, the legal office at South Carolina told The Tribune: “The contract was not signed and finalized and was therefore not yet in effect.”
Despite the penalty for canceling, there was no payment to be received by either team for playing in the series. A second game was set to be played in Provo in 2023.
Staley said earlier this month that she didn’t feel comfortable having her team play BYU after the alleged slurs yelled at Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson, who is the lone Black starter for her team and said she heard the N-word “very distinctly” from the BYU student section. BYU said it investigated those allegations and could find no evidence to corroborate Richardson’s account.
The school reinstated a fan who had been banned in light of the accusations.
Still, Staley has not reversed course after those findings.
She said in an original statement: “As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff. 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.”
The athletic director at South Carolina said he supported the decision.
On Wednesday, Staley told South Carolina television station WACH FOX, that she stands by canceling the home opener, saying she will continue to support Richardson and what she said she experienced.
“That’s her story. That’s what she’s sticking with,” Staley said. Unless Richardson changes, Staley added: “That’s what I’m sticking with.”
There are currently no plans to reschedule the series.
BYU has said that while it found no evidence of racial slurs, it is still working to ensure there is not racism at its games. A spokesperson for the Provo school referred back to an earlier statement about the basketball game cancellation, saying the university was “extremely disappointed in South Carolina’s decision.”
It continued: “We believe the solution is to work together to root out racism and not to separate from one another.”