‘Stand Up, N-Words’: More Athletes Accuse Brigham Young University Crowd of Racism

John Todd/ISI Photos
John Todd/ISI Photos

Brigham Young University students have been implicated in yet another racial controversy, this time centering around a women’s soccer game.

Five soccer players from a visiting team claimed that they were called racial slurs, including the N-word, at the school after they kneeled during the national anthem in 2021, according to a new report from The Guardian.

“I just remember that there was like a consistent chant of, ‘Stand up, N-words,’ during the anthem and right after,” said a player, who did not want to be identified.

She said BYU staff did not seem alarmed when they were alerted about what was happening.

“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.”

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According to The Guardian, four other players supported their teammates’ claims and said they also heard the chants. A player who did not hear the racist remarks said the crowd was reminded how to act at a sporting event during an announcement.

“Nothing else was done to my knowledge,” she said.

At the time of the incident, BYU’s associate athletic director for communications and media strategy, Jon McBride, said the crowd was reminded to be respectful of visiting teams but was unaware of any discriminatory remarks.

“We are not aware of any additional concerns being brought up during the game or any time thereafter,” McBride told The Guardian. “As we have stated, BYU will not tolerate racism in any form.”

Neither McBride nor BYU Athletics Director Tom Holmoe immediately responded to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment Friday.

The accusations come just a month after Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson claimed BYU staff didn’t do anything when fans yelled racist slurs toward her during a match on Aug. 26.

Richardson posted a statement on Twitter Aug. 28, writing that she and her Black teammates “were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match.”

“The slurs comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe,” she wrote. “Both the officials and BYU coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game, but failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment. …My teammates and I had to struggle to get through the rest of the game, instead of just being able to focus on our playing.”

However, after an “extensive review,” BYU officials said they could not find any evidence of there being racist behavior during the volleyball game with Duke.

“We reviewed all available video and audio recordings, including security footage and raw footage from all camera angles…We also reached out to more than 50 individuals who attended the event,” McBride said in a school statement earlier in September. “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.”

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