S. Carolina women's coach files defamation lawsuit against Missouri AD for slander

South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley has filed a defamation lawsuit against Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk for accusations he made about her following a game last month.

In a radio interview in January, Sterk accused Staley of promoting an environment that led to Gamecocks fans allegedly directing racial slurs at Missouri players during the Tigers' trip to South Carolina on Jan. 28.

"It wasn't a great atmosphere," Sterk said of the visit. "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."

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Richland County, South Carolina, Staley cites Sterk's "false, defamatory and reckless" statements as reasons for the suit. She is seeking damages not to exceed $75,000, according to documents obtained by WIS-TV in South Carolina.

The lawsuit also states that Sterk, given multiple opportunities to retract his comments about Staley, refused. Sterk has made no public comments on the matter since Feb. 1.

South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said on Jan. 31 that the university conducted an investigation into the matter in the wake of Sterk's public remarks, but found no confirmation of the alleged behavior by fans at the game.

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