Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou's Sterk Sued by South Carolina Coach, Fined by SEC

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou's Sterk Sued by South Carolina Coach, Fined by SEC

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, MO. * Missouri athletics director Jim Sterk got hit with a double dose of bad news Thursday. First, South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley filed a $75,000 defamation lawsuit against the AD over comments he made in a radio interview about the Tigers' game at South Carolina earlier this season. The Southeastern Conference then announced that the league has reprimanded and fined Sterk $25,000 for violating its code of ethics by publicly criticizing another institution.

The conflict stems from South Carolina's 64-54 victory over the Missouri women's team on Jan. 28 in Columbia, S.C., a game that featured a scuffle that led to multiple fouls and two ejections. After the game former Mizzou player Sierra Michaelis tweeted that South Carolina fans spit on Mizzou players at Colonial Life Arena. Later that week, Sterk doubled down on the accusations in an interview on Columbia radio station KTGR 1580 AM and seemed to hold Staley accountable for what he described as an "unhealthy" atmosphere at the game.

"We had players spit on and called the 'N' word and things like that," Sterk said on Jan. 30. "I mean it was not a good environment and unfortunately and I think Coach (Dawn) Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere. And it's unfortunate that she felt she had to do that." Sterk has since declined to comment on the matter.

Staley filed a civil slander suit against Sterk Thursday in South Carolina's Richland County's court of common pleas Fifth Judicial Circuit. Sterk is required to answer the complaint within 30 days.

"After Mr. Sterk refused to retract and apologize for his statement, Coach Staley felt like she had no choice but to hold him accountable and protect her name and reputation," Staley's attorney, Karl "Butch Bowers, said in a phone interview Thursday from Columbia, S.C. "Mr. Sterk's statements were false and defamatory and we look forward to proving that in a court of law."

The suit alleges that Sterk defamed Staley by "orally publishing to third parties that Coach Staley willfully and intentionally created an atmosphere at a college basketball game designed to incite riotous conduct and behavior by players and fans alike, which is false. …

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