The chorus ruined a 41-20 victory for the No. 25-ranked Ducks against the No. 12 Cougars. Hours after the game, Utah’s governor condemned the song as “religious bigotry”. Sunday afternoon, University of Oregon officials apologized, calling the song “offensive and shameful”. The students said they were “ashamed” by their classmates.
BYU, located in Provo, Utah, was founded in 1875 by Brigham Young, who served from 1847 to 1877 as the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Almost all of the more than 30,000 students at BYU are Mormon.
A BYU alum sat next to the student section and captured the chant in a seven-second video that has since been viewed more than 988,000 times on Twitter. Aubrey, the alum identified only by her first name, told KSTU she attended the Cougars-Ducks game with a close friend from college as part of their tradition of visiting an opposing team’s stadium for a BYU away game.
Aubrey said the student section had shouted the chant twice before she recorded her video with 14:53 left in the second quarter. BYU scored a touchdown and prepared to kick an extra point to make it 10-7. She told KSTU she heard the song two more times but didn’t confront the students “because I felt it would make the situation worse.” Instead, she told the station, she alerted a stadium employee.
“It was really disappointing,” she told the TV station, adding that “there’s an unfortunate acceptance in a lot of areas that you don’t make fun of a lot of religions, but Mormons are free game to make fun of. And I’d like that it should end.”
Aubrey’s video caught the attention of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R), who just hours after the game saw it “religious bigotry [is] alive and celebrated in Oregon.”
That’s not true, or at least it shouldn’t be, said his counterpart in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown (D).
“In Oregon, we strive to be a welcoming, inclusive state for all, regardless of race, religion, gender or background,” Brown said in a statement. “Our state and nation have an ugly history of discrimination and bigotry. The chant at last night’s Oregon-BYU game was unacceptable.
University of Oregon officials agree. On Sunday afternoon, they apologized for “an offensive and shameful chant from the student section during yesterday’s match”.
“These types of actions go against everything the university stands for and it goes against the spirit of competition,” university officials said in the statement. “We can and will do better as a campus community that has no place for hate, bias or bigotry.”
Kris Winter, the university’s interim vice president for sharing student life, told The Associated Press that officials would investigate what happened.
The Oregon Pit Crew, the official Twitter account of the Ducks student section, also said they apologize, adding that they “do not condone or support any hate speech directed at one’s religion.”
An almost identical incident occurred last college football season on Nov. 27, when the Cougars beat the University of Southern California Trojans, 35-31, in Los Angeles. Several BYU fans at the game told the Deseret News that on at least five occasions, USC students chanted the same obscene, anti-Mormon chant that Ducks fans would engage in less than a year later.
USC officials apologized a day later, condemned the song as “tasteless” and said it “didn’t align with our Trojan values.”
BYU says probe found no evidence of racial allegations against Duke volleyball player
Last month, BYU found itself under fire when a Duke women’s volleyball player accused a Cougars fan of repeatedly yelling a racial slur at outside hitter Rachel Richardson “every time she served” during an Aug. 26 match in Provo. Richardson was later “threatened by a white male who told her to watch her walk back to the team bus,” her godmother, Fort Worth attorney Lesa Pamplin, tweeted after the game.
While BYU initially apologized to the Blue Devils and suspended the student accused of yelling racial slurs at Richardson, it announced on Sept. 9 that an investigation into the incident found “no evidence to support the allegation that fans engaged in racial slurs or uttered themselves. racial slurs during the event.”