South Carolina women's basketball opener set after BYU canceled over alleged racial slurs

COLUMBIA — South Carolina women's basketball will open its season Nov. 7 against East Tennessee State after canceling its home opener against BYU.

Coach Dawn Staley canceled the two-game series with the Cougars after a BYU fan allegedly directed racial slurs at a Black Duke volleyball player during a game.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff," Staley said in a school release Wednesday. "The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

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The game against BYU was scheduled for Nov. 7 in Columbia with another matchup planned for the 2023-2024 season at BYU.

The alleged incident at the volleyball game occurred Aug. 27. The accusations first surfaced via Lesa Pamplin, a Fort Worth, Texas, attorney, who said the Duke player, Rachel Richardson, is her goddaughter and the only Black starter for the Blue Devils. Pamplin said in a Twitter post that BYU fans directed slurs at Richardson every time she served. She also said that Richardson was threatened and authorities had to sit at the Duke bench for their protection.

BYU issued a statement apologizing to Duke volleyball and said a fan, who was not a student, was banned from attending all future athletic events. However, BYU later reversed on its apology and the ban after an internal investigation did not reveal evidence of racial heckling. Duke continues to stand by Richardson's account of her experience.

"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," Duke athletic director Nina King said in a statement. "We unequivocally stand with and champion them, especially when their character is called into question. Duke athletics believes in respect, equality and inclusiveness, and we do not tolerate hate and bias."

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: South Carolina women's basketball opener set after alleged BYU slur