Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said on Tuesday that players on the women's basketball team were spit on and called a racial slur by Gamecocks fans during the team's game Sunday in South Carolina, and he blamed South Carolina coach Dawn Staley for promoting an atmosphere that allowed it to happen.
In an interview with KTGR Radio in Columbia discussing the heated rivalary, Sterk bashed the atmosphere and made it a point to discuss the hostility the women's players endured.
"It wasn't a great atmosphere," Sterk said. "It was really kind of unhealthy, if you will. We had players spit on, and called the N-word, and things like that. 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."
Sterk's radio commentary came just two days after No. 9 South Carolina downed No. 11 Missouri 64-54 in a heated matchup that included an on-court tussle which resulted in the ejection of two Missouri players.
Missouri coach Robin Pingeton says she was disappointed with "some things that transpired" and alluded to the hostile atmosphere in Columbia during the game.
"I was really disappointed with some things that transpired," she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "There's no place in our game for that. Fans got to be better all around. Our side, their side, everybody's side. Fans got to be better. These are daughters playing a game they love to play. There were certainly some things that were really unfortunate that transpired, not only verbally and some other things (spitting) you alluded to. It's really unfortunate. But you've got two fan bases that are passionate and just got to clean it up a little bit."
In a statement provided by South Carolina, however, athletic director Ray Tanner said after an investigation into the matter there was no evidence of the behavior alleged.
"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."