Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk reportedly has been fined by the SEC.
The Kansas City Star’s Chris Fickett reported Thursday that the SEC has fined Sterk $25,000. The development came shortly after it was revealed that South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley had filed a defamation lawsuit against Sterk, who alleged that Staley “promoted” an atmosphere that allegedly led to Tigers players being spit on by fans during a game between Missouri and South Carolina on Jan. 28 in Columbia, S.C.
Just in from SEC office: Sterk fined $25K and reprimanded & conference will review South Carolina’s game management procedures and visiting team security. https://t.co/p2nuCZdaV6
— Chris Fickett (@ChrisFickett) February 22, 2018
Here’s the SEC’s full statement, as relayed by The State’s Ben Breiner:
“Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey today issued a public reprimand and a fine of $25,000 to Missouri Director of Athletics Jim Sterk, and mandated a Conference office-led review of South Carolina’s game management procedures and visiting team security.
“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,” said Commissioner Sankey. “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.”
The Kansas City Star’s Aaron Reiss reported that Staley is seeking an award of no more than $75,000, per the suit.
The lawsuit stems from Sterk’s comments, which were made in January during an interview with KTGR after the game. In that interview, Sterk said, “It’s wasn’t a great atmosphere” and that “Coach Staley promoted” the elements that led to South Carolina fans allegedly spitting on Missouri players. The incident occurred after a scuffle happened during the game.
The tension between Missouri and South Carolina continued. Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner released a statement saying that the school “received no confirmation of the alleged behavior.” Shortly after, South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin used Twitter to defend Staley in a passionate message.
On Jan. 31, Staley responded to Sterk’s statements by saying, “The accusations are serious and false. It’s going to be handled, but not right here, and not in the manner in which they were dealt. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”