A school rivalry allegedly turned into something far more insidious when the South Carolina Gamecocks played the Missouri Tigers in Sunday women's basketball game. According to Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk, the South Carolina fans spit at his players after the women’s basketball game. Sterk also says the SC folks shouted racial epithets.
In a radio interview with KTGR-FM, Sterk said, “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.” He went on to accuse South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley of exacerbating the situation: “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."
Missouri women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton was asked about the fans allegedly spitting at her players after the game. Pingeton didn't deny that they did, but she did hint at some line-crossing animosity. “I was really disappointed with some things that transpired. There’s no place in our game for that. Fans have to be better all around. Our side, their side. These are daughters. There were some things that were really unfortunate that transpired,” Pingeton said. “Not only verbally but some other things you alluded to.”
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner released a statement where he didn't admit to his school being at fault following an investigation.
"The commitment to a secure environment for everyone at our home games, including fans, student-athletes, coaches and staff from the home and visiting teams is of the utmost importance.” Tanner also said that, “In anticipation of this rivalry game, the athletics department provided security for the Missouri basketball team, above its standard operating procedure. 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.”