Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said Tuesday that members of the Tigers women's basketball team were spit on and called a racial slur by South Carolina fans after the team's game Sunday in Columbia, South Carolina, and he faulted Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley for promoting an atmosphere that allowed for it to allegedly happen.
"It wasn't a great atmosphere. It was really kind of unhealthy if you will," Sterk told "The Big Show" on KTGR radio. "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."
No. 9 South Carolina beat No. 11 Missouri 64-54 in a heated contest that included an on-court tussle at Colonial Life Arena -- where fans booed the Tigers throughout the night -- and two Mizzou ejections.
Afterward, a former Missouri player who was with the team in South Carolina tweeted that Tigers players were spit on as they left the court. Asked about what happened Tuesday, Missouri coach Robin Pingeton called it "unfortunate" without detailing what exactly occurred.
"I was really disappointed with some things that transpired," she said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "There's no place in our game for that. Fans got to be better all around. Our side, their side, everybody's side. Fans got to be better. These are daughters playing a game they love to play. There were certainly some things that were really unfortunate that transpired, not only verbally and some other things (spitting) you alluded to. It's really unfortunate. But you've got two fan bases that are passionate and just got to clean it up a little bit."
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said his department conducted a review after learning of the allegations.
"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 said in a statement. "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."
The defending national champion Gamecocks and Tigers don't meet again this regular season but could face off in the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.