Columbia, SC (WLTX) - University of South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley says the accusations made against her are false, and she's working to get her team ready for its big game against UConn.
Staley spoke to reporters a day after University of Missouri Athletics Director Jim Sterk made comments about her and what he believes was bad behavior by Gamecock fans.
"The accusations are serious and false and they will be handled in a matter reflective of those facts," Staley said. 'They're going to be handled in the right manner."
In an interview with radio station KTGR-FM Tuesday, Missouri AD Jim Sterk stated he believed Staley created an atmosphere that led to his players being verbally assaulted by USC fans during last Sunday's game at the Colonial Life Arena.
"It wasn't a great atmosphere, it was kind of unhealthy if you will. We had players spit on, and called the n-words and things like that," Sterk said. "It was not a good environment and unfortunately I think [South Carolina] Coach [Dawn] Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere and it's unfortunate that she felt she had to do that."
The incident apparently happened in the tunnel as Missouri players were leaving.
Staley didn't want to talk extensively about his comments, but when asked about her fans, she praised them.
"Our fans are great, they're loyal, they're passionate they understand basketball they understand how to act in the stands," Staley said.
USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner said he spoke to Sterk Tuesday, and is perplexed by his radio interview.
"I don't don't quite understand what that the intent was," he said. "He and I have spoken yesterday and we've spoken today and I'm hoping there's a resolution coming in some form and fashion."
"I do believe a retraction is necessary from Jim Sterk's comments," Tanner added.
Tanner said he's had a conversation with the Southeastern Conference office, and is hoping this situation gets resolved quickly.
"It's gone on too long," he said.
Staley said she's just trying to focus her team on taking on the number one team in America Thursday night.
"I'm a master compartmentalist," she said. "I think anytime you have to deal with distractions you deal with them and you prioritize, and our priority is UConn.
"Did I lose a little sleep last night?[thinking about the comments] Yes, obviously. But there's another game to be played. I'm responsible for twelve individuals that want to beat UConn. So I have to get my mind right. to help them get ready."
USC President Harris Pastides tweeted his support for Staley as well, saying, "Coach Staley, we support you 100%. You are a unifier not a divider. We 'got your back.'