In a defamation suit filed Thursday in Richland County, S.C., South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley sought damages up to $75,000 from Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk, after comments made last month.
Sterk has accused Staley of promoting a hostile gameday atmosphere, alleging that Missouri players were spit upon and taunted with racial epithets by South Carolina fans at a game on Jan. 28.
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner told ESPN that the university has investigated Staley’s program and the incident in question following Sterk’s accusations but found “no confirmation of the alleged behavior.”
Staley maintains that the accusations are “serious and false,” and has announced her determination to treat them as such in her lawsuit.
The suit also notes that Sterk has since repeated his allegations and has refused to retract his statements despite being given multiple opportunities to do so.
On Thursday, the SEC responded to the altercation with a reprimand for Sterk, as well as a personal fine of $25,000. The conference has ordered a further review of South Carolina’s game management procedures.
In a statement, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said, “there is no place in this league for discord inside or outside of the arena.”
Sankey reports having discussed the Jan. 28 game at length with representatives from both schools in the hope of resolving the issue.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “a mutual resolution does not appear imminent. Our hope is that we can direct our focus back where it belongs — on our student-athletes and on-court competition."