Mary Baldwin University responds to allegations of racism at Jan. 30 women’s basketball game

(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 5:41 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — On Thursday, Mary Baldwin University (MBU) responded to claims that one of their women’s basketball players used racial slurs during a January 30 game against William Peace University.

“Mary Baldwin University takes the allegation of racism against one of our students very seriously. We value equity, inclusion, and diversity, and we live this mission every day on our diverse campus. Racism is not tolerated in our community,” a statement from MBU read.

MBU says an investigation into an assault on one of their players brought up claims of racism. The university says that they carried out an investigation; “In conjunction with colleagues at WPU, our administrators carefully reviewed video from the game, interviewed the MBU player involved, and spoke to courtside witnesses.”

William Peace University (WPU) took to social media to respond to additional claims of racist interactions involving the university’s athletes.

The WPU president saying in part, “No one should ever be subjected to acts of racism and I am outraged that this type of unacceptable behavior continues in 2021.”

As regards to the MBU incident, the university says, “There is no place for racism or disparaging language in basketball — or anywhere — and it didn’t happen in the case of the Jan. 30 game or any other games in which MBU has competed.”

Full statement from Mary Baldwin University:

“Mary Baldwin University takes the allegation of racism against one of our students very seriously. We value equity, inclusion, and diversity, and we live this mission every day on our diverse campus. Racism is not tolerated in our community.

When we learned that an investigation into an assault on one of our student athletes during a Jan. 30 basketball game against William Peace University had evolved into a conference investigation of racism against one of our own players, we were stunned. During the investigation we carried out in conjunction with colleagues at WPU, our administrators carefully reviewed video from the game, interviewed the MBU player involved, and spoke to courtside witnesses, eventually determining that our student athlete -- Demet Saygili -- did not provoke the assault against her and never used a racial slur in airing her frustrations to officials or other players.

The referee report filed after the game states that no one on the officiating crew heard the alleged slur or any racially charged language. The words Demet spoke to the referee were not what has been widely reported according to the WPU player. Demet asked the referee to keep an eye on the WPU player because she was using bad language to intimidate the team. As a captain, this type of interaction with officials is normal and captains are encouraged to come to the referees if they have concerns.

Demet is a three-year veteran of the team, a co-captain, and has a track record of exemplary sportsmanship in three seasons of USA South Conference basketball. She is also a valued member of the women’s basketball team and the MBU Family. The allegation of racism is hurtful and completely incompatible with who she is.

Demet leads and is supported by a racially and ethnically diverse basketball team. We believe that she would not hold this position if she held racist views or were prone to racist outbursts. Furthermore, Demet came to MBU from Turkey in 2017. She is keenly attuned to issues of racial and ethnic discrimination, and while none of this makes her immune to racism, the allegation simply does not add up when considering these facts in addition to the evidence gathered during the investigation.

There is no place for racism in our athletics department, on our campus, or in society. The WPU player involved has been quoted as saying that we don’t need to call each other derogatory names “to play the game of basketball. That’s not what we’re here for …” We agree with this statement. There is no place for racism or disparaging language in basketball -- or anywhere -- and it didn’t happen in the case of the Jan. 30 game or any other games in which MBU has competed.”

Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.