Dawn Staley reportedly is suing Missouri’s athletic director.
Caroline Hecker of WIS-TV in Columbia, S.C., reported Thursday that the South Carolina women’s basketball coach is filing a defamation lawsuit against Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk.
The reported development comes after Sterk 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.
BREAKING: USC coach Dawn Staley files defamation lawsuit against Missouri AD surrounding comments following the match up in February. @KOMUnews
— Caroline Hecker (@CHecker_WIS) February 22, 2018
As reported by The Kansas City Star’s Aaron Reiss, Staley is seeking an award of no more than $75,000, per the suit.
During an interview in January with KTGR shortly after the Missouri-South Carolina game, 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 occurred during the game.
The tension didn’t end there, though. Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner released a statement saying that the school “received no confirmation of the alleged behavior.” Shortly after, South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin used Twitter to passionately defend Staley.
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.”
Clearly, the report that a lawsuit has been filed marks an escalation in the situation between Staley and Sterk. South Carolina and Missouri are two of the best women’s basketball programs in the SEC. The Gamecocks are 22-5, 11-3 in the SEC. The Tigers also are 22-5 overall with a 10-4 SEC record.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter received a comment from Staley’s attorney, who called Sterk’s comments “false and defamatory.”
Here's Dawn Staley's attorney Karl "Butch" Bowers with a statement on her lawsuit filed today against Mizzou AD Jim Sterk. From a phone interview today: pic.twitter.com/VqdKswoiN3
— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) February 22, 2018
Missouri and South Carolina split their meetings this season. The Tigers won the first game 83-74 on Jan. 7 in Columbia, Mo. South Carolina claimed a home victory against Missouri, 64-54.