On Sunday (August 28), Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson shared a statement on Twitter detailing the racist heckling and threats her team faced during their Friday (August 26) volleyball game against BYU.
"Friday night in our match against Brigham Young University my fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match," Richardson wrote. "The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe."
Richardson's godmother Lesa Pamplin initially called attention to the incident on Saturday (August 27) and accused BYU officials of not intervening when necessary.
"My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Dukes volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called a n***er every time she served," Pamplin said in a tweet.
Richardson's statement on Sunday aligned with her godmother's sentiments.
BYU officials and coaches were aware of the incessant harrassment during the game "but failed to adequately address the situation" and "take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior," Richardson said.
The Duke volleyball player also addressed why she continued to play through the racist heckling.
"Although the heckling eventually took a mental toll on me, I refused to allow it to stop me from doing what I love to do and what I came to BYU to do; which was to play volleyball," Richardson said. "I refused to allow those racist bigots to feel any degree of satisfaction from thinking that their comments had 'gotten to me'. So, I pushed through and finished the game."
Following the match, BYU Athletics issued an apology Saturday and announced that a fan involved in the incident had been banned from all athletic venues.
"When a student-athlete or a fan comes to a BYU sporting event, we expect that they will be treated with love and respect and feel safe on our campus. It is for this reason BYU has banned a fan who was identified by Duke during last night's volleyball match from all BYU athletic venues," a BYU statement reads.
"We wholeheartedly apologize to Duke University and especially its student-athletes competing last night for what they experienced."
The incident also gained the attention of NBA superstar LeBron James who tweeted, "@LesaPamplin, you tell your Goddaughter to stand tall, be proud and continue to be BLACK!!! We are a brotherhood and sisterhood! We have her back. This is not sports."