WCC Conference Responds To BYU Racism Investigation

Sep 13, 2022, 1:00 PM
Tom Holmoe - BYU...
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe speaking at National Signing Day. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
(BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

SALT LAKE CITY – The WCC Conference released a statement regarding BYU’s investigation into an alleged racial incident at a volleyball match between the Cougars and the Duke Blue Devils.

“The West Coast Conference has reviewed the facts and information provided by BYU regarding its volleyball match against Duke on August 26. WCC bylaws hold host institutions accountable for ensuring that all spectators and fans refrain from rudeness, vulgar language, remarks regarding race or gender and other unsporting conduct.

“Members of the Duke program reported that they heard language from fans that violated WCC sportsmanship policies during the match. Racist remarks are inappropriate, hurtful, and unacceptable. The membership of the WCC is committed to providing student-athletes safe environments in which to learn, grow and compete. When instances of unsporting conduct occur during WCC athletic events, the Conference office reviews the facts and information to determine whether the institution responded appropriately pursuant to the WCC policies on game management and whether the institution has created effective plans to prevent repeat occurrences.

“The Conference worked closely with BYU to examine all the information and steps taken both during and in the moments and days after the match. Based on our review of the information shared by BYU athletic department personnel, we believe BYU has conducted a transparent and thorough investigation. BYU’s inability to locate perpetrator(s) does not mean the remarks were not said and does not mean BYU did not put the appropriate resources, time, and effort into their investigation.

“Upon review of the information received, we believe the institution implemented the appropriate game management protocols during the match and has since taken the appropriate actions to thoroughly investigate this incident. We also believe BYU has adopted appropriate measures and policies to help avoid future incidents. The safety and respect for one another is paramount in sport, higher education and in life. We share BYU’s commitment to foster an inclusive environment and its pledge to further efforts to ensure everyone is treated with equal respect. The WCC and each of its member institutions stand together in this commitment to root out racism.” reads the statement.

BYU’s Response To The Incident

Initially, BYU banned the accused fan but reinstated the fan following an investigation. 

From its two-week investigation, which BYU referred to as an “extensive review,” BYU stated they had not found any evidence to support the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event.

BYU also announced that the fan, which the Duke players and administrators initially pointed out as committing the alleged slurs, is no longer banned.

The school released the following statement regarding the findings of the investigation.

“As part of our commitment to take any claims of racism seriously, BYU has completed its investigation into the allegation that racial heckling and slurs took place at the Duke vs. BYU women’s volleyball match on August 26. We reviewed all available video and audio recordings, including security footage and raw footage from all camera angles taken by BYUtv of the match, with broadcasting audio removed (to ensure that the noise from the stands could be heard more clearly). We also reached out to more than 50 individuals who attended the event: Duke athletic department personnel and student-athletes, BYU athletic department personnel and student-athletes, event security and management and fans who were in the arena that evening, including many of the fans in the on-court student section.

“From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event. As we stated earlier, we would not tolerate any conduct that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe. That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation.

“As a result of our investigation, we have lifted the ban on the fan who was identified as having uttered racial slurs during the match. We have not found any evidence that that individual engaged in such an activity. BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any hardship the ban has caused.

“Our fight is against racism, not against any individual or any institution. Each person impacted has strong feelings and experiences, which we honor, and we encourage others to show similar civility and respect. We remain committed to rooting out racism wherever it is found. We hope we can all join together in that important fight.

“There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review. To the contrary, we have tried to be as thorough as possible in our investigation, and we renew our invitation for anyone with evidence contrary to our findings to come forward and share it.

“Despite being unable to find supporting evidence of racial slurs in the many recordings and interviews, we hope that all those involved will understand our sincere efforts to ensure that all student-athletes competing at BYU feel safe. As stated by Athletics Director Tom Holmoe, BYU and BYU Athletics are committed to zero-tolerance of racism, and we strive to provide a positive experience for everyone who attends our athletic events, including student-athletes, coaches and fans, where they are valued and respected.”

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