COLUMBIA — South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner confirmed Thursday that he has not received an apology from Missouri AD Jim Sterk concerning Sterk’s comments about coach Dawn Staley and her women’s basketball program.
“We talked the other day, we had a conversation, but no, there has not been an apology extended,” Tanner said minutes before the Gamecocks tipped off with Connecticut.
Tanner also didn’t know if Sterk had apologized to Staley.
“Not to my knowledge. She hasn’t shared that with me,” he said. “You’d have to ask her.”
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who attended the USC-UConn game, released a statement earlier Thursday on the incident and confirmed that Tanner, Sterk and the rest of the SEC’s ADs will meet next week.
“We have an athletic directors’ meeting normally scheduled next week,” Sankey said. He referred to his previous statement when asked about Sterk’s comments.
“I have had discussions with athletics directors at both institutions. Competition among SEC teams is highly intense but can never compromise the expectation of respect between our institutions,” the statement read.
“Coach (Robin) Pingeton and coach Staley have both worked tirelessly to build nationally-ranked teams comprised of outstanding student-athletes and both teams should be celebrated for their success. I look forward to meeting in person with both athletic directors very soon to reaffirm these shared priorities and expectations.”
Tanner said Wednesday he felt a retraction from Sterk was necessary. He said it again Thursday.
“You used the word ‘demand,’ I just think a retraction is appropriate,” Tanner said.
“It wasn’t a great atmosphere. It was really kind of unhealthy, if you will. We had players spit on, and called the N-word, and things like that,” Sterk said Tuesday, describing what allegedly happened Sunday. “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.”
Staley flatly denied that anything of the sort took place, and further said she stands by every single thing her fans do. She again pointed to Tanner’s investigation, which involved talking to seven staffers from the game and finding no evidence.
“The accusations are serious, and false,” Staley said. “And they will be handled in a manner reflective of those facts.”
Sterk said during a St. Louis radio interview Thursday that he was done talking about the incident, quoting Forrest Gump during it.
“I’m going to leave it at that,” Sterk said. “We’ve spoken to people, I’ve said my piece, and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Staley indicated Wednesday that the issue was not over and would be dealt with.
“They’re not going to be handled in a manner that they were dealt,” Staley said. “They’re going to be handled in the right manner.”
Sterk was asked if he was concerned that legal action or other avenues could be pursued.
“We just want to move forward,” he said. “We’ll see, but I’m hopeful that there’s some positives that come out of it.”