Missouri AD apologizes to South Carolina women's basketball coach and will pay $50,000 to settle lawsuit

Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk and South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley reached a settlement agreement on Thursday stemming from a defamation lawsuit filed by the Gamecocks coach.

The suit was filed in February after Sterk claimed Staley promoted an "unhealthy" type of atmosphere at South Carolina's home game against Missouri on Jan. 28. Sterk alleged that during the game, Staley promoted Missouri players to be spit on, taunted with racial slurs and treated poorly.

South Carolina conducted its own investigation into the claims in the aftermath but found no confirmation of the alleged behavior. She  filed the suit citing Sterk's "false, defamatory and reckless statements."

According to a statement released by the University of Missouri, the $50,000 settlement requires $25,000 go to Staley's INNERSOLE nonprofit organization and the other $25,000 be put toward attorney fees.

"Following a very spirited and intense game I attended in late January between the nationally ranked Missouri and South Carolina women's basketball teams, I made comments in a local radio interview that were construed to suggest that Coach Staley promoted the negative experiences of racial epithets and spitting," Sterk said in a statement Missouri released Thursday. "I do not believe Coach Staley would promote such conduct, and I sincerely apologize to her for those comments."

In a separate interview in the wake of the settlement, Staley said the lawsuit had nothing to do with the money.

"The money is a non-issue, but (we're) glad we got a settlement," Staley told WIS News 10. "This was about my reputation and what I've built over my career and also just being my mother's child. I am a child in which, my mother raised me properly. If anything synonymous with anything that's negative, if it's seen in that light, it's a direct relation to what she's done in raising me and raising her four other kids, so I'm extremely happy."

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