Months after Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson alleged that she was called a racial slur at BYU, the University of Pacific volleyball team pulled out of its game in Provo and elected to forfeit the match instead.
“The team expressed concerns following reports of racist and hostile comments during an August 26 match,” said Mike Klocke, Pacific’s senior director of communications. “Pacific stands with our student-athletes.”
During a tournament in August, Richardson said she was called the N-word by a fan in the BYU student section. BYU launched an investigation into Richardson’s allegations in the days after the match and found no evidence that a racial slur was said. It also reinstated a fan who was banned in the aftermath of the incident and apologized to the family.
On Monday night, BYU associate athletic director Jon McBride called Pacific’s decision “unfortunate” and said the athletic department offered to meet with Pacific officials multiple times but were declined.
“We offered multiple times to have in-person meetings with a variety of administrators and coaches to speak through concerns, whether in Stockton or Provo,” McBride said. “We also offered to have our student-athletes engage in conversation together. Pacific did not accept any of these offers.”
Pacific is the first West Coast Conference team to cancel a trip to Provo in the aftermath of the Duke volleyball match. South Carolina’s women’s basketball team also canceled its home-and-home series with BYU, but it was a nonconference game.
The cancellation, and forfeit, of a conference game is a more significant step. This is especially true considering that WCC officials reviewed BYU’s investigation into Richardson’s claims and publicly backed BYU’s response. It also said BYU took “appropriate measures and policies to help avoid future incidents.”
However, the conference did say that some language used during the Duke-BYU volleyball match “violated the WCC sportsmanship policies.” It also said it could not rule out that the racial slur was said based on the investigation.
“Upon review of the information received, we believe the institution implemented the appropriate game management protocols during the match and has since taken the appropriate actions to thoroughly investigate this incident,” the conference said in a statement this September.
McBride said BYU spent time with WCC teams and officials in the last three months to talk about the investigation and the incident. He said BYU was told on Friday that Pacific would cancel the game and forfeit the match.
“We have communicated with West Coast Conference athletic directors and administrators in all WCC athletic departments,” McBride said. “We have also shared what we are doing with the WCC commissioner and administrators. They have all been informed of our increased safety measures and game-day protocols. We have tried to be very transparent and thorough in those communications in large group settings, monthly calls and one-on-one conversations.
“... We feel it is unfortunate that with all the information we have shared about what we are doing and our willingness to collaborate with them, Pacific decided not to play this volleyball match. As a result, the student-athletes from both teams will miss out on participating in an exciting athletic competition.”