Social media was awash with condemnations of BYU and the LDS Church over the weekend after a volleyball player from Duke said she was subject to racial slurs “throughout the entirety of the match.”
BYU banned one fan, who was not a BYU student, from all athletic venues on campus and issued a statement saying:
“To say we are extremely disheartened in the actions of a small number of fans in last night’s volleyball match in Smith Fieldhouse between BYU and Duke is not strong enough language. 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.”
BYU is of course correct in its statement. The LDS Church has come out with many recent statements against racism, and the Church policy on this issue is clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is against racist expressions like this and any other form of racism.
But new information has come out this week. The BYU police looked at the tapes from the event, and the fan who was banned didn’t actually say anything racist. In fact, he was not even in the stands when the racist comments were allegedly made. Even the never-LDS Salt Lake Tribune was forced to admit that the police are baffled. They can’t find the person or people who made the allegedly racist comments.
I will quote at length from the Cougar Chronicle, the BYU conservative publication:
The Cougar Chronicle was contacted yesterday by a source inside the BYU athletic department who told a different story. They have asked for their name to be kept private to avoid discipline from BYU athletics. They will be referred to as Connor. Connor explained:
“Ms. Richardson complained of hearing a racial slur during the second set but did not point anyone out. Officials discussed briefly and stationed policemen there… there were no more complaints until after the match.”
The video of the match shows that Rachael Richardson served on the ROC (student section) side four times in the game, twice in the second set and twice in the fourth. A police officer can be seen standing by the ROC section monitoring the students as Richardson serves in the fourth set. Richardson did not mention this officer in her statement.
Richardson serves during the 4th set, an officer can be seen on the right monitoring the student section
The Cougar Chronicle has been unable to find a source in the student section that can corroborate Richardson’s claim of racial slurs being yelled at her. Vera Smith, a BYU student in the student section during the game, said she “heard absolutely nothing” that could be taken as a racial slur. Jacob Hanson, also a BYU student, shared texts with the Cougar Chronicle from two friends in two different parts of the student section that also heard nothing. They said they were not aware there had been a problem until after the game. Maddy Johnson, another BYU student who was in the ROC student section, said she did not hear any racial slur said and when she saw the individual escorted out of the arena he was in a different section. A mother of a BYU student says she personally knows five people who were in the student section during the game “One person was on the court and the others were in the first row” she told the Chronicle. None of them heard a racial slur. Two other people on the court, who wish to remain anonymous, did not hear any racial slurs.
Connor explained what happened after the game:
“When a mentally challenged fan approached a Duke player. The Duke team then suddenly recognized the handicapped man’s ‘voice’ as the same one shouting slurs. They never saw or pointed out a face, just a voice. They banned this man. Not for slurs, but for interfering with visiting guests. BYU Athletics staff went through footage of the entire game and the man Duke identified was never seated in the student section. Her story doesn’t add up, BYU banned an innocent man to appease the mob and make their PR mess go away. While I don’t know if Ms. Richardson genuinely misheard something or intentionally made up this story, it certainly does not constitute the criticism BYU has gotten. There is zero evidence of a slur being said. Not a single witness, besides Ms. Richardson, has come forth. Not a single cell phone video or BYUtv’s several camera angles caught a single thing. How unlikely when this person supposedly said a slur during ‘every single serve.'”
The Cougar Chronicle reviewed private messages between Connor and others inside the athletic department. The messages corroborate Connor’s statement. In a second press release not posted to Twitter BYU athletics clarified the reason they banned the accused man, “Following Friday night’s volleyball game, we spent hours reviewing video of the event to try and figure out what exactly [happened]… When last night’s behavior was initially reported by Duke, there was no individual pointed out… It wasn’t until after the game that an individual was identified by Duke… That is the individual who has been banned.” Despite not finding any evidence, BYU athletics was sure to indicate they still believed Richardson. “We understand that the Duke players’ experience is what matters here. They felt unsafe and hurt, and we were unable to address that during the game in a manner that was sufficient. For that, we truly do apologize” the statement continued. The Chronicle has reached out to BYU athletics for comment but did not receive a reply by the time of this publication.
Rachel Richardson was not the only person who provided statements to the media on her experience. Marvin Richardson, Rachel’s father, claimed there was more than one person throwing slurs at his daughter. He did not attend the game.
Another relation, Rachel’s godmother Lesa Pamplin, drew attention to the story before Richardson’s statement by Tweeting “While playing yesterday [my Goddaughter] was called a n***** every time she served. She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus.” According to her Twitter account, Pamplin is an attorney and a current candidate for a Fort Worth judicial election. Pamplin even claimed credit for making the story national news in an official campaign statement on the incident. “We should be even more outraged that it took a Tweet from me, in Tarrant County Texas, to bring this incident to light” she stated. As indicated in the statement, Pamplin was also not at the game.
I must add that Rachel’s godmother Lesa Pamplin was the person who got the most amount of publicity on social media regarding this event. She has a long history of racist tweets insulting “white people” and is running for public office and of course eager for publicity.
The tide appears to be turning against the “BYU allowed racist comments” narrative. There has been some national attention pointing out this event is appearing more and more like a Jussie Smollett hoax than anything else.
Here is a video of the entire match.
Watch it yourself and see if you can hear the racist comments. Remember, the claim was that the Duke player was subjected to racial slurs from the student section throughout the entire match. If that were true, it should be easy for those slurs to be heard during the match. Yet nobody in attendance has come forward to corroborate these claims, and the video provides no evidence it happened, and no videos from others in attendance backs up the charges of racism.
I want to be very, very clear of my position on this issue. I did not go to BYU and my position is that BYU is a Church school and should withdraw from all nationwide college sports. BYU should concentrate on teaching the Gospel. I personally would be ecstatic if BYU were banned from all nationwide college sports.
So, I have absolutely no interest in defending BYU when it comes to college sports. But I do have an interest in defending the truth. And the truth here appears to contradict the national narrative. Is anybody surprised given that we apparently live in a “post-truth world?”
Note to commenters: if somebody can provide video evidence of people in the BYU crowd yelling racist things during the match, I will happily publicize that evidence. Please send me that evidence if you have it. You can post it in the comments or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.