COLUMBIA, S.C. – Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk says he is done talking about what happened to the Tigers' women's basketball team at South Carolina.
Sterk had charged that Missouri players were spit on and heard racial slurs during the Tigers' 64-54 loss at No. 7 South Carolina last Sunday. He also said Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley fostered the hostile environment. Staley said Sterk's comments were "serious and false."
On Thursday, Sterk told 101 ESPN in St. Louis that he and the school had moved on. Sterk says he has said his piece and that is all he has to say.
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner thought Sterk needed to retract his comments about Staley.
Meanwhile, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has had to multitask this week, dealing with serious concerns on and off the court.
Staley and the Gamecocks were preparing for No. 1 UConn (South Carolina lost 83-58 Thursday) while the coach dealt with Sterk's comments.
"I'm a master compartmentalist," Staley said Wednesday. "Anytime you deal with distractions, you prioritize and the priority right now is UConn. That's been my focus. Did I lose a little sleep last night? Yes. But there's another game to be played."
Sterk told the Columbia, Missouri, radio station KTGR on Monday that fans used racial slurs and spit on Missouri players as they left the court after the Gamecocks' 64-54 win.
"We had players spit on and called the N-word and things like that. It was not a good environment," Sterk told the station. "And unfortunately, I think Coach Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere, and it's unfortunate that she felt she had to do that."
Staley said Sterk's assertions were "serious and false." She said they would be addressed through proper channels.
During the Missouri game there was a brief scuffle when South Carolina's Alexis Jennings and Missouri's Kayla Michaels battled for a loose ball and both hit the floor hard still locked up. Players on both sides ran to the scrum. Officials took about 15 minutes to decide on penalties: Two Missouri reserves were ejected for leaving the bench while a starter on each side – Missouri's Sophie Cunningham and South Carolina's Doniyah Cliney – were assessed unsportsmanlike fouls.
South Carolina's crowd booed Cunningham each time she touched the ball.
In her postgame comments, Missouri coach Robin Pingeton complimented South Carolina's crowd and the big-game atmosphere.
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said he investigated what occurred when Missouri left the court and found no evidence to back up Sterk's charges.
"I was very confused," Tanner said. "I felt very strongly what we stand for in women's basketball, our fan base, our head coach and the way we handle our business."
Tanner has talked with Sterk and the officials at the Southeastern Conference over the past two days. Tanner believes a retraction from Sterk about Staley is required.