South Carolina's Dawn Staley files defamation lawsuit against Mizzou AD Jim Sterk

Carrie Guzman
February 23, 2018

The development came shortly after it was revealed that SC 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 SC on January 28 in Columbia, S.C.

Missouri coach Robin Pingeton came onto the floor to restrain standout Sophie Cunningham during the fracas. SC athletic director Ray Tanner told reporters an internal investigation did not confirm any of Sterk's claims.

"After Mr. Sterk's refusal to retract and apologize for his false and defamatory statements, Coach Staley was left with no choice but to respond to his attack on her character, reputation and integrity by holding him accountable for his disappointing and false statement", the statement read.

Staley described the accusations as "serious and false". The suit also references an interview Sterk gave with 101 ESPN in St. Louis a couple of days later.

A recent controversy in SEC women's college basketball will be taken to court.

Sterk instead told another radio station he moved on and had nothing else to say.

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For their part, the SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey issued just one statement on the matter on February 1, saying: "I have had discussions with athletics directors at both institutions".

Staley is suing and accusing Sterk of libel/slander.

"Competition among SEC teams is highly intense but can never compromise the expectation of respect between our institutions", Sankey said. Sankey said he had spoken to both Sterk and Tanner, the SC athletic director, about the matter. "I look forward to meeting in person with both athletic directors very soon to reaffirm these shared priorities and expectations".

Even before their matchup a few weeks ago, Mizzou and SC didn't need much to stir up their rivalry.

The lawsuit stems from public comments made by Sterk after the second of two hotly contested games between the Gamecocks and the Tigers.

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