Missouri AD blasts SC coach, alleges fans used racial slur

Kristopher Nichols
February 3, 2018

He believes the behavior of SC coach Dawn Staley influenced the inappropriate actions of fans.

SC women's basketball coach Dawn Staley called allegations made by Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk "serious and false" at a news conference Wednesday.

"I'm a master compartmentalist", Staley said Wednesday. "I think anytime you have to deal with distractions you deal with them and you prioritize, and our priority is UConn". That's been my focus.

"Did I lose a little sleep last night?"

"These are daughters, playing a game that they love to play". SC (18-3, 7-2) is now third in the league, while Mizzou (17-4, 5-3) is fifth. But Staley has had to double back to the Missouri game and Sterk's charge.

Athletic Director Jim Strek claims that players were spitting on and called "the n-word" during Missouri's 65-54 loss to the Gamecocks on January 28. "We had players spit on and called the N-word and things like that". "I mean it was not a good environment and unfortunately and I think Coach (Dawn) Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere".

"Yeah, it wasn't a great atmosphere". She said they would be addressed through proper channels.

Tanner appeared on 107.5 The Game, a SC sports radio show, and said he spoke to the SEC office about Sunday's game, but he declined to say what exactly was talked about. Players on both sides ran to the scrum.

Last season at Gampel, the Huskies celebrated their 100th consecutive victory after defeating SC 66-55.

When Robin Pingeton was asked to respond to those accusations on Tuesday, she spoke slowly and seemed to have tears in her eyes.

On Tuesday, South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner released a statement saying his department investigated the claims and didn't find any confirmed reports of the described behavior.

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"Some things were said that were very confusing and we had an incident, so-called, that we needed to check out".

After Mizzou's home win over SC three weeks earlier, a local reporter told Pingeton he heard a Mizzou fan call SC coach Dawn Staley and her players "thugs" during the game.

Tanner has talked with Sterk and the officials at the Southeastern Conference over the past two days.

"I do believe a retraction is necessary from Jim Sterk's comments", Tanner added.

None of that, Staley said, matters much at the moment — not with UConn looming.

The two teams met up for the second time on Sunday.

Staley did her best at the news conference to emphasize her focus on the reigning national champion's matchup against No. 1 CT on Thursday, adding of the accusations that, "any time you have to deal with distractions, you deal with them". That has not changed even with SC winning its first NCAA title — defeating Mississippi State in the finals after the Bulldogs stunned the four-time defending champ UConn in the semis — last April.

The Huskies have already defeated power programs like Notre Dame, Maryland, Stanford and Oklahoma by nine points or more this season.

Carolina comes in ranked seventh in the country but as the defending national champion, that is something that is different in this matchup. "But at the same time, it's the game of basketball". "I stand by our fans, by the way they cheer, by every single thing they bring to the arena".

The Huskies (20-0) take on No. 7 SC (18-3) at Colonial Life Arena, one of the more hard settings in college basketball.

Pingeton didn't hear that from the crowd that day but said, "First of all that really disappoints me to hear that, and if that came from our fans it's really disappointing. So we'll see whether this team is equipped to handle that".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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