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Brigham Young University Athletics administrators have eliminated the rowdy student fan section in the Smith Fieldhouse behind the area where women’s volleyball players serve during matches.

The decision is in effect while BYU investigates Duke outside hitter Rachel Richardson’s allegations that she heard racist slurs hurled at her from that section during a match against No. 7 BYU on Friday. BYU won the match, 3-1.

BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe, who did not attend the match, met with Richardson at Duke’s hotel on Saturday morning. Richardson positively described the meeting on the ESPN show “Outside the Lines.” She said Holmoe told her he would remove the ROC section.

BYU police report details what happened during BYU-Duke volleyball match

ROC stands for Roar of Cougars, the BYU mascot.

Friday’s BYU-Duke match was part of the doTerra Classic, a four-team tournament. When the tournament resumed on Saturday, following the meeting between Richardson and Holmoe, Duke’s match against Rider was moved to a local high school, and the ROC section was gone for BYU’s match against Washington State.

When BYU was serving, the school’s cheerleaders occupied the space, which had consisted of three four rows of about 75-80 students, according to BYUtv’s broadcast of the game.

When Washington State served, the area was left empty.

That will change this weekend as BYU hosts the three-day BYU Nike Invitational with No. 10 Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Utah State. All the matches will be played in the Smith Fieldhouse, so while two of the teams play, the former ROC student section area will be used for seating for the teams not playing at the time, BYU spokesman Jon McBride said in an email.

“Exact protocol for that space moving forward beyond this weekend is still under review,” he said.

BYU, which finished last season ranked No. 2 in the nation, played its first games of the new season last week while ranked No. 10. The Cougars moved up to No. 7 in the latest rankings after sweeping Rider, Duke and Washington State. Only Duke managed to win a set.

The BYU Nike Invitational opens with BYU playing Utah State at 7 tonight.

On Friday, Cincinnati will play Pitt at 10 a.m., followed by Pitt playing Utah State at 5 p.m. and BYU playing Cincinnati at 7 p.m.

The tournament concludes Saturday with a 4 p.m. match between Utah State and Cincinnati and a 7 p.m. meeting between the two top-10 teams, Pitt and BYU.

That match should draw a massive crowd. The BYU-Duke match set a Smith Fieldhouse record for a women’s volleyball match with 5,507 fans. BYUtv announcers reported that BYU turned away another 1,000 fans.

All three of BYU’s games this week will be televised by BYUtv.

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