DALLAS - Southern Methodist University and its volleyball program are apologizing to the family of a slain Dallas officer for what it calls a breakdown in communication.
Sgt. Michael Smith’s wife, Heidi, shared her story about a recent interaction with the SMU volleyball program on Facebook. Her 14-year-old daughter, Victoria, had been invited to give the honorary first at a volleyball match on Saturday.
The event was to honor Smith, a Dallas police officer who was shot and killed in the Downtown Dallas ambush on July 7. But Heidi said someone from the volleyball program emailed her Thursday and essentially uninvited Victoria.
“Hello again Heidi,
I regret to inform you that we will not be able to go through with the honorary first serve. In the switch between staff members and the handling of volleyball promotions, some information was not forwarded on correctly from (name omitted) to myself and I deeply apologize for that.
The volleyball program was not correctly informed that this would be taking place at the game, and feels that in light of recent events and diversity within the SMU community, that the demonstration could be deemed insensitive.
However, the coaching staff would like to still do something for Victoria and the team. They are invited to stay after the game for an autograph session with the players, if you would like.
Again, they apologize for the inconvenience and late notice, especially in regards to the sensitivity of this matter.
I do hope that you all will still join us on Saturday. If you would like to discuss this further, you can reach me at (name and # omitted).”
Heidi said the whole ordeal was basically a slap in the face. Her post on Facebook quickly gained widespread attention with many people expressing outrage that the idea of honoring a fallen officer would be considered “insensitive.”
“To me, that was a cowardly way of saying the results of this election,” Heidi said. “I really feel like the decision was made out of fear of what evil might come of it instead of the good that could have come out of it.”
The post was also heavily shared in the police community.
“I don’t know who made the decision. I don’t really care who made the decision at SMU,” said Dallas Police Association President Frederick Frazier. “But the president at SMU needs to come out himself and call that little girl and tell her that this was a mistake and it was his fault and this will never happen again.”
SMU refused multiple requests for an interview. They later released a statement that said they would reach out to the family to apologize and re-invite them to the match.
“This incident does not reflect SMU values. Due to a change in staffing, there was a breakdown in communication that led to this unfortunate situation,” the university’s statement said in part. “The invitation was intended to help a family heal, and we very much look forward to Victoria’s first serve in the volleyball match Saturday.”
Heidi said they received the re-invitation but would not be attending.
“Victoria feels like the disrespect is already there,” she explained. “And I think at her age, being 14, that’s just too much for her to deal with.”