The Republican governor of Utah took to social media this weekend to vent his frustration at a group of University of Oregon fans engaged in an anti-Mormon chant during a college football game Saturday against Brigham Young University (BYU).
Gov. Spencer Cox blasted Oregon fans who were seen in a video posted online chanting “F**k the Mormons!”
“Religious bigotry alive and celebrated in Oregon,” Cox wrote in a Twitter post containing a clip of the offending video.
WARNING: Strong language
— Nate Slack (@nateslack5) September 18, 2022
After the clip went viral, the Oregon Pit Crew issued a public apology to BYU on Twitter. The university is a private school based in Provo, Utah, and is subsidized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“To all @BYUfootball fans in attendance at todays game we would like to apologize for the actions of the students in attendance. We do not condone or support any hateful speech directed towards one’s religion and are ashamed of those who participated,” their tweet said.
To all @BYUfootball fans in attendance at todays game we would like to apologize for the actions of the students in attendance. We do not condone or support any hateful speech directed towards one’s religion and are ashamed of those who participated.
— Oregon Pit Crew (@OregonPitCrew) September 18, 2022
The University of Oregon also apologized via the institution’s official Twitter account.
“The University of Oregon sincerely apologizes for an offensive and disgraceful chant coming from the student section during yesterday’s game against Brigham Young University,” the tweet noted, adding: “These types of actions go against everything the university stands for, and it goes against the spirit of competition. We can and will do better as a campus community that has no place for hate, bias or bigotry.”
These types of actions go against everything the university stands for, and it goes against the spirit of competition. We can and will do better as a campus community that has no place for hate, bias or bigotry. 2/2
— University of Oregon (@uoregon) September 18, 2022
BYU itself faced allegations of racism earlier this month when reports claimed a fan from the BYU student section hurled an epithet at a female Duke University volleyball player during a match.
According to the Western Journal, BYU officials noted in a statement posted to the university’s social media sites that a fan had allegedly been identified who called an opposing black female volleyball player from Duke University, Rachel Richardson, the ‘n-word’ during the match. The announcement went on to say that the fan, who was in the student section but was not a student, had been permanently banned from BYU sporting events.
“When a student-athlete or a fan comes to a BYU sporting event, we expect that they will be treated with love and respect and feel safe on our campus,” the statement said. “It is for this reason BYU has banned a fan who was identified by Duke during last night’s volleyball match from all BYU athletic venues.”
Official statement from BYU Athletics. pic.twitter.com/5bIwXNwr7J
— BYU Cougars (@BYUCougars) August 27, 2022
However, a subsequent investigation by campus police and the school’s newspaper found no evidence that the incident ever occurred.
Richardson claimed: “[I] was targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match. The slurs and comments grew into threats… Both officials and BYU coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game, but failed to take the necessary steps… they also failed to adequately address the situation after the game.”
But within days of BYU issuing the statement, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported that things are not what they appeared to be, as BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer told the newspaper that he did not believe at all that the fan identified as having yelled the slur was guilty of anything but buying a ticket.
“When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him,” Besendorfer told the paper.
BYU added in a statement: “From our extensive review, 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.”