Both universities offer minimal comment
North Carolina State University is investigating the allegation someone yelled a racial slur at a University of North Caroline female basketball player during a game last week.
“As the team entered the court before the game in one corner of the Reynolds Coliseum, the source said that some N.C. State students called the Black player a ‘coon,’ which the player and part of the staff heard,” the Tarheel Tribune reported. “N.C. State officials are looking into the situation.”
The allegations were reported on Friday, the day after the game.
Associate Athletics Director for Communications Annabelle Myers offered few comments on Tuesday in response to questions by The College Fix. She did indicate the visiting team enters through the “southeast corner” near the visitor’s bench, in response to a question from The Fix.
That entrance is between a student section and what appears to be mostly UNC fans sitting behind their team’s bench, according to a Fix review of the footage.
“I would refer you back to our statement from Friday – we have nothing to add at this point,” she said, in response to other questions about what player made the allegation, if there is video of the incident, and what the timeline is for the investigation.
It would seem crucial to the allegations to know which black player made the accusations, and how specifically that makes sense.
There are at least 11 black players on UNC team. Only one was walking out? One was walking out but only with white teammates? How does one specific player know she was the target of the racial slur?
The identity of the accuser also points to one possibility – UNC fans were yelling the name of Anya Poole, which, among 6,500 people in a small arena, could sound like something else. (Not that she necessarily made the allegation, but that a teammate heard someone yelling her last name).
“As soon as we were made aware of an allegation following the game Thursday evening, NC State Athletics began looking into the matter and will continue to do so,” the university stated in its media comments. “NC State is committed to ensuring an inclusive and supportive environment for all, on our campus and in the world around us.”
Dana Gelin, UNC’s athletics communications director, did not directly address similar questions, deferring to the public university’s statement from last Friday, Feb. 2.
The university stated:
We have spoken with officials at NC State many times since last night’s game, as well as student-athletes and staff from our women’s basketball program. We appreciate NC State’s diligence in looking into the matter. There is no room for hateful speech in sports. We support all of our student-athletes and their right to compete in a safe environment, no matter where they play.
With racial slur accusations, a few things should be considered.
It is certainly possible someone yelled a racial slur at a UNC women’s basketball player as she entered the arena last Thursday. Should that be the case, the fan should be barred from attending NC State events.
But there is good reason to be skeptical that someone actually yelled a racial slur. A player may have *thought* she heard a slur, but recent history of racial slurs allegations that fell apart should give everyone pause. Justice and charity suggest we make two assumptions until proven otherwise: A UNC player earnestly believed she heard a racial slur, but a NC State fan did not yell one.
Remember, it was not too long ago that Duke University women’s volleyball player Rachel Richardson and her godmother made several conflicting claims about the frequency of racial slurs the athlete endured while playing against Brigham Young University.
The August 2022 accusations led University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley to cancel her team’s game against BYU, a decision she stood by even after the decision was debunked.
BYU officials had to apologize and retracted their punishment against a special needs individual they had barred from future events after their investigation yielded no proof of a slur.
Still, that didn’t stop Pacific University from forfeiting rather than play the (fake) racists at BYU.
Just last week, Illinois State University announced it could not “verify the use of a racial slur” by one of its fans during a men’s basketball game in December 2023.
That should not be confused with the debunked claims that Virginia State University’s women’s soccer team heard racial taunts, including the n-word and “monkey noises” in September 2023.
When first reacting to racial slur claims, it would be wise to follow the words of former Pennsylvania State University coach Micah Shrewsberry, upon hearing allegations that Penn State fans had used racial slurs, a claim ultimately debunked.
“If anything did happen — we’re checking into everything — but if anything did happen, that’s something that is completely unacceptable.”
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