South Carolina cancels women’s basketball series with BYU due to an alleged racist incident

In this March 27, 2022 file photo, South Carolina coach Don Staley talks with an official during the first half of a college basketball game against Creighton in the NCAA Elite Round 8 in Greensboro, North Carolina (Jerry Broome, The Associated Press)

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PROVO – The fallout from the alleged racist incident during last week’s BYU women’s volleyball match against Duke suffered an unfortunate injury on Friday afternoon.

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

Gamecocks were scheduled to begin their two-game series on November 7 against BYU — the home opener in Columbia, South Carolina — with a return trip to Provo contracted during the 2023-24 season. The school said no new opponent had been identified for the game.

“As head coach, my job is to do what is best for the players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina. “The incident at BYU has led me to reassess our home and home, and I don’t feel like this is the right time for us to be involved in this series.”

South Carolina State Athletic Director Ray Tanner said he stood by his coach’s decision.

“She and I discussed her thoughts on the situation,” Tanner said in a statement. “I support Dawn and all of our coaches in their right to schedule matches and the best opponents for their teams.”

Staley cited the incident during a BYU stadium volleyball match against Duke in which sophomore Rachel Richardson alleged that a fan used a racial insult against her and other Duke castmates as a reason to cancel the series. BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmo and other officials were quick to denounce racism as an investigation was launched, leading to a fan that Duke claimed the abuse was indefinitely barred from campus sporting events.

“I ask everyone in all of our games that represents BYU, to have the courage to take a stand and be able to take care of each other,” Holmo told an audience of smaller than 5,700 people who set record attendance at Smith Fieldhouse last Friday night, “and most importantly the guests, Our guests whom we invite to come and play here so that we may be disciples of Christ and manifest Him in every way.”

BYU police revealed in the incident report that the department found no immediate evidence of the slander being said, and that the responding officer did not believe that the fan – who was not a BYU student but was sitting or standing near the BYU student section – had used slander.

One day after the incident, Holmo addressed BYU’s student department to invite them to do a good job of respecting their guests, especially athletes from other schools, on campus. BYU has already 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 to this week’s BYU Nike Invitational Women’s Volleyball Tournament at Provo.

That tournament, like last Saturday’s game, will be played without a student section directly behind the servers on the south side of Smith Fieldhouse. BYU says it’s undetermined how it will use that space going forward, but that it will reserve it for non-competing teams to explore opponents while invited.

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A proud alumnus of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has covered BYU for KSL.com since 2015, while also mixing in prep sports, education, and whatever else his editors hire him to do.

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