The University of Missouri has settled a lawsuit brought against its Director of Athletics, Jim Sterk, by South Carolina Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dawn Staley for $50,000. One half of the settlement will be paid to Staley’s non-profit foundation, INNERSOLE, and the other half of the settlement to her attorneys.
“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. “I do not believe Coach Staley would promote such conduct, and I sincerely apologize to her for those comments.
“I accept his apology and I appreciate the contribution of $25,000 to INNERSOLE, a not for profit organization I co-founded that provides new sneakers to children who are homeless or in need,” Staley said. “I’m glad we can share in support of this worthy cause and I look forward to moving past this with a continued spirited but positive competition amongst our programs.”
In accordance with University policy, the lawsuit settlement will be paid by the University since Sterk made his comments in good faith while performing his duties as a University employee.
However, Sterk is still standing by his claims that Mizzou players were harassed by Carolina fans.
“Immediately after the game, several of our student-athletes and staff shared with me experiences they encountered before, during and after our game at South Carolina, including incidents of being spit on, a racial epithet, and other derogatory comments,” Sterk said in a statement released by the University of Missouri. “Those actions have no place at any sporting event, and I’m truly sorry that our student-athletes and staff had to endure that type of treatment.
“My concerns about those incidents continue. I appreciate that the Southeastern Conference takes seriously the reports of our student-athletes about inappropriate language and actions directed at them, as well as their efforts to engage in a review of game management issues with South Carolina, which I understand is ongoing.
“All of us, Mizzou and South Carolina included, have obligations to promote a respectful environment for all student-athletes to compete in. It is my sincere hope that we continue to encourage appropriate behavior at all college sporting events. We must condemn that type of negative behavior wherever it might occur and take steps to ensure that no team has to endure type of hostile behavior moving forward. I hope that efforts following the January 28 game will move us toward those goals.”