On Friday, however, BYU Athletics said its investigation did not find any evidence of racial hazing.
“As a result of our investigation, we have lifted the ban of the fan who was identified as having uttered racial slurs during the match,” the university said in a statement. “We have not found any evidence that this individual engaged in such activity. BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any inconvenience the ban has caused.”
Rachel Richardson, a sophomore on Duke’s volleyball team, tweeted a statement on August 28 alleging that she and other black players had been subjected to racist harassment during match days earlier. Richardson claimed that BYU officials failed to act even after being made aware of the incident.
Duke University Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King released a statement Friday following BYU’s statement.
“The 18 members of the Duke University volleyball team are exceptionally strong women who represent themselves, their families and Duke University with the utmost integrity,” King said. “We definitely stand with and advocate for them, especially when their character is called into question.”
Watching the match on television at the Richardson family home, Marvin Richardson said he had “no idea” what happened during the contest, but his daughter explained her experience to him in detail afterward.
“After the game, we [Rachel and I] always talk and she called, but this was a different call,” Marvin told CNN’s “New Day.”
“She was crying, she was upset and Rachel is not the person to call and cry because of a loss, it’s just not who she is. So we knew something was wrong and that’s when she started telling us what happened and what happened .during the game first [we felt] anger, rage and then just a real need to make sure something was done to correct the things that came our way.”
BYU said it reviewed audio and video recordings, along with university broadcast footage, and interviewed more than 50 people at the game as well as Duke and BYU athletics personnel and student-athletes.
“As we have said before, we would not tolerate any behavior that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe. That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation,” the statement said.
“Despite being unable to find supporting evidence of racial slurs in the many recordings and interviews, we hope that all involved will understand our sincere efforts to ensure that all student-athletes competing at BYU feel safe,” BYU said.
South Carolina basketball coach still fine with canceling games
In the wake of the initial controversy, South Carolina basketball head coach Dawn Staley said her team has canceled games against BYU scheduled for this season and next.
Staley said Friday that she has not changed her mind.
“I continue to stand by my position. After my personal research, I made a decision for the well-being of my team. I regret that my university, my athletic director Ray Tanner and others entered into the criticism of a choice I made,” Staley said in statement released by the university’s athletic department.
A group of Republican lawmakers in South Carolina say the university “acted without consideration or regard for the truth” in pulling the games.
Vice Chairman of the South Carolina Freedom Caucus, Republican Rep. RJ May told CNN in a phone call, Staley has no reasons for his decision.
“Instead of apologizing, she’s doubling down on her decision,” May said. “BYU deserves an apology.”
The statement comes two days after the group of lawmakers sent a letter to Tanner and Staley, saying the university “rushed to silence the loudest voices of the far left by ‘cancelling’ BYU, literally and figuratively.” The meeting members also requested records related to school reactions to the alleged incident and discussions about scheduled games against BYU.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Kevin Dotson and Amy Simonson contributed to this report.