A women’s volleyball player at Duke University recently claimed that while playing against Brigham Young University, a crowd member hurled racial slurs toward her. While the athlete’s story has not been authenticated, more reports of racism at BYU have become public — this time from soccer players.
According to Fox News, five female soccer players from a team that played BYU in 2021 accused the university’s fans of calling them the N-word. The women allege the incident occurred just before their match as they kneeled during the national anthem. In an article published by The Guardian on Friday (Sept. 30), members of the opposing team spoke anonymously about the alleged racist encounter.
“I just remember that there was like a consistent chant of ‘Stand up, N-words’ during the anthem and right after. And when brought to the attention of the BYU coaching staff, there was no real response or sense of, like, alarm,” one player told The Guardian. They added, “I felt disappointed but not surprised. Backlash for kneeling was not new for our group, but to hear that in person was shocking. I think both the fans and coaching staff knew we wouldn’t cancel the game after the incident, which once again shows this could be part of a bigger cultural issue within BYU as an institution.”
Another player for the unnamed team told The Guardian that although she didn’t hear the offensive language, their coach was upset by the actions of BYU’s crowd. The coach reportedly asked school officials to make an announcement regarding the crowd’s behavior. Not much was done beyond that, as sources say several athletes “wanted to continue with the game.”
Jon McBride (BYU’s associate athletic director for communications and media strategy) released a statement following the accusations. In it, he claimed that The Guardian’s recent mention was his first time being notified of the repeat issue. “Your inquiry is the first time we are hearing this specific concern,” he began.
McBride continued, “[At] the match, which occurred [in 2021], BYU responded to a concern from the [visiting team] about fan reaction when players knelt during the national anthem. A public announcement, similar to one made earlier, reminding fans to be respectful was repeated, and the game proceeded. We are not aware of any additional concerns being brought up during the game or any time thereafter. As we have stated, BYU will not tolerate racism in any form.”