DALLAS — Brigham Young University banned a fan after an incident of racism at a volleyball game against Duke University went viral this weekend.
Lesa Pamplin, a Tarrant County attorney and candidate for a criminal court judgeship, tweeted Saturday that her goddaughter Rachel Richardson, the only Black starter on Duke’s volleyball team, was called the n-word and threatened by fans at the team’s game in Provo, Utah.
“She called immediately after the game when she was on the bus and she was in tears and crying,” Richardson’s father, Marvin Richardson said. “She was distraught, and she was very disturbed but what had happened to her.”
Marvin also has ties to North Texas. He was born and raised in Fort Worth, went to UNT and now works in Washington D.C. as the deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
“I grew up in Tarrant County and Fort Worth in the 60s and 70s during desegregation. Many of the acts that I endured as a young child growing up were a lot more blatant. They were a lot more accepted,” he said. “I refuse to allow something like this to get swept under the carpet in 2022.”
Pamplin tweeted that Richardson was called the racial slur repeatedly every time she served and was threatened that she should "watch her back" when she left for the team bus.
Rachel tweeted her own statement Sunday saying she was heckled the whole game. She added while BYU’s players showed good sportsmanship, neither its coaches nor officials did anything to stop it once aware.
“It is not enough to indicate that you are not racist, instead you must demonstrate that you are anti-racist,” Richardson wrote.
Her father said the game should have been immediately stopped, and Rachel shared she only continued to play because, she wrote, she “refused to allow those racist bigots to feel any degree of satisfaction”
“It kind of speaks to where we are at this time,” Marvin Richardson wrote. “It’s unfortunate.”
BYU volleyball coach Heather Olmstead wrote in a statement Sunday, “we must do better” and that a meeting with Rachel “helped me understand areas where we can do better.”
BYU, the tenth-ranked team in the country, beat Duke 3-1 on Friday night in front of a record crowd of more than 5,500 fans.
Marvin feels the focus could’ve been about growth in a women’s sport. Instead, the attention is on racism and, after the incident, Duke’s next game was played at a high school in front of no fans for safety.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe addressed the school’s fans before its next game against Washington State on Saturday night.
“There were some egregious and hurtful slurs,” Holmoe said. “Cheer them on as loud as you can but do not cross the line.”
BYU said it banned one fan who was in the student section but not a student.
Marvin says support has been overwhelming, but the incident wasn’t just one person and it’s a reminder of a need for change.
“If you’re standing in the crowd and someone is doing that next to you, what is progress? Progress is someone saying, ‘Hey, stop that’,” he said. “In the moment, you stop the activity. You stop it and you call it out for what it is.”