The University of South Carolina Gamecocks and University of Missouri Tigers don’t like each other, and that’s a good thing, especially when it comes to sports. Natural rivalries are what makes sports entertaining, but on Sunday that intensity turned ugly as several reports claim that South Carolina fans spit at and hurled racial slurs at Missouri players after the basketball game.
Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk not only echoed the claim but went even further, claiming that the atmosphere at Sunday’s game was fostered by South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
“It wasn’t a great atmosphere; it was kind of unhealthy, if you will. We had players spit on and called the n-words and things like that,” Sterk said in a radio interview with KTGR-FM. “It was not a good environment, and unfortunately I think coach Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere, and it’s unfortunate that she felt she had to do that.”
(I don’t know if I’m buying the claim that Staley, a Hall of Fame basketball player with a storied career as both a collegiate and a professional player, would incite a crowd to yell racist slurs at the opposing team.
I mean, she’s from Philly and ... wait, what? Staley was going to accept an invitation to President Donald Trump’s White House after the Gamecocks won the national championship?
OK, then, what do I know?)
While the Gamecocks won the highly contested game 64-54, which included a few on-court dustups, TV cameras didn’t catch any of the alleged acts of aggression from the South Carolina fans.
“The commitment to a secure environment for everyone at our home games, including fans, student-athletes, coaches and staff from the home and visiting teams is of the utmost importance,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said in a statement viewed by WLTX 19. The statement continued:
In anticipation of this rivalry game, the athletics department provided security for the Missouri basketball team, above its standard operating procedure. Upon hearing the accusations regarding our crowd’s behavior towards the Missouri team, the athletics department conducted a review of our operations from the game, including interviews with staff and security personnel. In this review, we received no confirmation of the alleged behavior directed at the visiting team by fans at the game.
Staley has not commented on the events that took place, or on Sterk’s remarks. Staley is expected to speak with the press Wednesday about an upcoming game between the Gamecocks and the University of Connecticut’s Huskies, WXLT 19 reports.