South Carolina cancels women’s basketball series with BYU over alleged racial incident

In this March 27, 2022 file photo, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley speaks with an official during the first half of a college basketball game against Creighton during the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 round game in Greensboro, N.C. Conversation (Gerry Broome, Associated Press)

Estimated reading time: 3-4 minutes

PROVO – The aftermath of an alleged racial incident during last week’s BYU women’s volleyball game against Duke was tragically injured Friday afternoon.

South Carolina has canceled the home and home women’s basketball series with the Cougars, effective immediately, head coach Dwayne Staley announced in a statement.

The Gamecocks plan to start a two-game series on Nov. 7 against BYU (home opener in Columbia, South Carolina) and return to Provo for the 2023-24 season. The school said a new opponent for the competition has not yet been identified.

“As a head coach, it’s my job to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina. “The events at Brigham Young University have made me re-evaluate our home and home, and I don’t think this is the right time for us to be part of this series.”

South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said he supports the coach’s decision.

“Dawn and I discussed her thoughts on the situation,” Tanner said in a statement. “I support Dawn and all our coaches who have the right to arrange the games and opponents that are best for their teams.”

Staley cites an incident at BYU’s home volleyball game against Duke, where sophomore Rachel Richardson claimed a fan used racial slurs against her and other black Duke teammates as a reason to cancel the series . Brigham Young University athletic director Tom Holmer and other officials were quick to condemn racism as they launched the investigation, which led to a Duke claim that a fan said the slur was banned from campus sports indefinitely.

“I ask everyone at all of our games that represent BYU that you will have the courage to stand up and be able to take care of each other,” Holmoe told a small crowd, not the record attendance of 5,700. Smith Field last Friday night, “It’s more about the guests, and we invite the guests who come here to play so we can be disciples of Christ and show it in every way.”

BYU Police revealed in an incident report that the department found no direct evidence of the defamation, and that responding officers did not believe the fan — who was not a BYU student but was sitting or standing near the BYU student area — used defamation.

A day after the incident, Holmoe addressed the BYU student department, urging them to respect their guests on campus, especially athletes from other schools. BYU has updated its Fan Code of Conduct, which is read at every campus sporting event, starting with Monday’s women’s soccer game and continuing through this week’s BYU Nike Invitational Women’s Volleyball Championship in Provo.

That game, like last Saturday’s game, will be played without the student area behind the servers on the south side of Smith Arena. BYU said it has not yet determined how the space will be used in the future, but it will be reserved for non-competing teams to scout opponents during the invitational.

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A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has been covering BYU for KSL.com since 2015, while also working on prep, education, and whatever else his editors have assigned him.

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