South Carolina women’s basketball Head Coach Dawn Staley filed a defamation lawsuit Thursday against Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk for comments he made during a February radio appearance.
The suit, filed in Richland County’s Fifth Judicial Circuit, alleges that Sterk’s appearance on KTGR Radio in Missouri included “patently false allegations” against the Gamecocks coach.
Click below for audio of Sterk’s comments, where he called the atmosphere for Missouri’s January 28th game at South Carolina “unhealthy” and that Staley “promoted that type of atmosphere”:
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) January 31, 2018
South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner subsequently called Sterk’s comments “confusing”, and asked for a retraction to be made by the Missouri AD.
Later Thursday, the Southeastern Conference issued Sterk a $25,000 fine for a violation of SEC Bylaw 10.5.1, which states “Coaches and administrators shall refrain from public criticism of other member institutions, their staff or players.”
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey also authorized a public review of South Carolina’s gameday practices and security operations with regards to visiting teams.
In a statement released by the conference, Sankey said,
“Both Missouri and South Carolina have cultivated highly successful women’s basketball programs, which enjoy tremendous fan support and have earned the respect of this office. While we always appreciate a healthy level of competitive intensity on the court, there is no place in this league for discord inside or outside of the arena. I have had multiple conversations over the past few weeks with representatives of both schools about the problems emanating from their January 28 game and it has been my desire for those issues to be mutually resolved between the athletic programs and individuals involved. Unfortunately, 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.”
Tanner responded in a statement provided by USC Athletics by saying he “welcomes the review” and reiterates he “received no confirmation of the alleged behavior by our fans directed towards the visiting team”.
According to the court documents, Staley seeks $75,000 for “severe and continuing injury” to her reputation.
SportsTalk and South Carolina Radio Network obtained a copy of the lawsuit from the Richland County Clerk: