Women's soccer team players allege BYU fans used racial slurs during a 2021 game

Five women's soccer players from a visiting team allege that BYU fans used racial slurs during a 2021 match, according to the Guardian.

The players told the Guardian that spectators used the N-word when shouting at them when members of the team knelt during the national anthem. Sports players have knelt during the national anthem in the past to protest social justice and systemic racism in the world.

"I just remember that there was like a consistent chant of 'stand up, N-words' during the anthem and right after," one of the players said, via the Guardian. "And when brought to the attention of the BYU coaching staff there was no real response or sense of, like, alarm.

"I felt disappointed but not surprised," the same player added. "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."

In response to these new allegations, Jon McBride, BYU’s associate athletic director for communications and media strategy, told the Guardian that the school "responded to a concern from the [visiting team] about fan reaction when players knelt during the national anthem" with a public announcement (in addition to one that had already been made) to remind fans to be respectful.

This was confirmed by a sixth member of the visiting team, who told the Guardian that the BYU coach was alerted, “seemed shocked and did ask," and that an announcement was made at the game but “nothing else was done to my knowledge”.

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

BYU's second racism allegations in a month 

Rachel Richardson, a Black female Duke volleyball player, accused BYU spectators of using racial slurs directed at her and other Black players at a match at the end of August. Richardson later added that school officials and the BYU coaching staff failed to "take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior to create a safe environment."

But after BYU initially banned the suspected heckler, a subsequent investigation by police and the school found no evidence a slur was used during the match.

In response to Richardson's allegations, the South Carolina women's basketball team canceled its home-and-home series with BYU – which was scheduled to begin this November. Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley said she didn't "feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series" following "the incident at BYU."

Staley later said she stands by her decision to cancel the series even after BYU's investigation found no evidence to substantiate Richardson's allegations.

"Did the young lady come out and say that she apologized for hearing something wrong? Did she come out and say that yet?" Staley said Thursday. "OK. That's her story, so that's what she's sticking with. Until she comes out and says that, then I'll be the first to apologize. I'll be the first to say 'I'm wrong.' But that has yet to come out. So that's what I'm sticking with."

South Carolina won't have to pay any penalty for pulling out of the series because the agreement was never completed between the two schools, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.