Shocking claims of racism on the court led to an amazing display of solidarity.
According to ABC11, the William Peace University women’s basketball team walked out on their shot at a conference title after their star point guard, Lauryn Cross, was suspended over her reaction to being called racial slurs on multiple occasions during games earlier in the season. The WPU team forfeited a championship in order to support their teammate.
It all started back in January when, during a contentious matchup against Mary Baldwin University, Cross says a white player insulted her using a racial slur.
"Basically she had called me a N*****,” the 20-year-old told the news station. “And then she had walked to the ref and told him 'can you please watch number 15. You know how they get.' Referring to the color of my skin."
After that, more insults ensued.
"She said what N******. And my reaction was I punched her,” Cross added. “I have apologized for my actions. I was just very, very upset. I've never been called a N**** bravely to my face."
Cross would be suspended four games for her reaction to the racial slurs.
Last week, during a game against Meredith College, Cross says another white player called her the N-word, and while there was no physical fight, she says she was suspended again, based on allegations that she was aggressive toward the player.
"Meredith had reported that I followed them. I went into their locker room. It's a lot of little things that did not happen," Cross said.
Meredith Head Basketball Coach LaQuanda Quick has since issued a statement, according to ABC11. In it, she says her team and the College’s athletics program "take accusations of racism, on the court or off, very seriously” and continue “to stand against hatred and injustice as we support our student athletes and their wider communities."
The second suspension prompted Cross’ teammates to forfeit playing in this past weekend’s championship game.
The suspensions handed down came from William Peace University and the USA South Athletic Conference, according to a statement by WPU administrators.
The university also says it reported Cross’ concerns to the academic institution so they could also address the matter. Additionally, the USA South Athletic Conference has been asked by the school to form an anti-racism taskforce.
"We are taking steps to ensure that our student athletes are no longer forced to navigate such inappropriate situations," the statement read, in part.
"Calling each others N***** and B****** we don't need that to play the game of basketball,” said Cross. “That's not what we're here for and I want people to know It's not ok if you're playing basketball, walking down the street, you're at the grocery store... any of that.”
Read William Peace University’s statement about their conference championship participation forfeiture here.