Sometimes, sporting events can turn ugly when tempers flare. For the Mizzou and South Carolina Basketball teams, the conflict continued beyond the court with accusations from Missouri’s athletic director, Jim Sterk.
The heated game that took place this past Sunday included a brief fight and two ejections. (See the altercation on our Instagram.) Sterk discussed the game on a radio show Tuesday evening, alleging that South Carolina fans spit on Missouri players. He also made specific accusations about the Gamecock’s head coach, Dawn Staley.
South Carolina’s athletic director Ray Tanner addressed the comments on Wednesday on 107.5 The Game, saying the allegations were “beyond my understanding.” He also addressed the potential disciplinary action of the allegations of fan misconduct.
“I have spoken to Commissioner (Greg) Sankey, I have spoken to others in the SEC office,” Tanner told The State newspaper. “This is not an issue anyone is excited about dealing with. That’s where it is, I can’t share more than that with you. It’s being addressed. There’s conversation ongoing that things that have been said and where we are and hopefully we’ll get back to basketball real soon.”
Sterk’s blame of Staley for the alleged behavior has become a catalyst of anger and frustration as members of the women’s basketball community accuse Sterk of slander.
As to the alleged racial slurs and spitting by South Carolina fans, Tanner said that staff from Colonial Life Arena has been interviewed and there are no currently confirmed reports of the behavior. Tanner did add, however, “we are not standing up and saying you made it up.”
“I don’t want to speak to anything that Jim Sterk said. All I can tell is that we have a tremendous environment for women’s basketball in Colonial Life Arena. What Coach Staley and her players have built over the years here culminated in a national championship. We’ve won a lot of games. It’s a great environment for young women, it’s a great environment for women’s basketball,” Tanner said.
“So I think that it’s obvious that we would disagree with some of the comments that were made about our environment, and maybe some comments that were directed at Coach Staley are beyond understanding for me. It goes without saying what she has done. ... So comments that were made, we don’t understand that and only Jim Sterk can explain his reasoning.”
Sterk has not yet made any public remark since originally making the claims on Tuesday.