ESPNW reporter Mechelle Voepel had strong words against the Missouri athletic director in his accusations against USC Gamecocks basketball fans and Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley.
When asked during an interview at Colonial Life Arena ahead of the women's top-10 matchup vs. No. 1-ranked UConn, Voepel said that Mizzou AD Jim Sterk's claims that USC fans spit on Tigers basketball players and called them racial slurs as they exited the floor following Sunday's game were embarrassing.
Voepel also said that his decision to make no further comment during a radio show on Thursday was cowardly.
"You make a remark about that about not just South Carolina's coach but the national team coach of our country and a 3-time Olympian, somebody who was the Olympic flag bearer, that's a serious allegation against her," Voepel said. "And then to say 'oh, I'm done talking about it." You're the leader of your athletic department. I graduated from Missouri and I am embarrassed about it."
Ultimately, Voepel says Sterk should apologize to Staley and the SEC should do something.
"I don't think you can allow an athletic department head to say something like that and just let it go," Voepel said.
Voepel also tweeted about the drama prior to Thursday's game.
The right way to try to put out a fire is NOT to pour more gasoline on it. Which is what Missouri AD Jim Sterk did with his remarks about Dawn Staley. Mizzou coach Robin Pingeton, in my estimation, tried to handle things correctly. But her AD just made things much worse.— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) January 31, 2018
I have to question if Missouri AD Jim Sterk would say similar things about a men's basketball or football coach in the SEC. If he has, someone please point me to those remarks.— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) January 31, 2018
I don't think either side - nor the SEC - has handled things perfectly in regard to the animosity that's developed between Mizzou and South Carolina WBB. But an AD calling out an opposing coach and putting all the blame on her is not leadership, nor does it help in any way.— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) January 31, 2018
Will say again: Mizzou WBB coach Robin Pingeton's remarks after both games with South Carolina were measured, respectful. Her saying both sides' fans should dial it back was true and said in a non-confrontational way. She was trying to defuse things. The AD's remarks are his.— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) January 31, 2018
If a player/coach made allegations against an opposing coach, I would think they would need proof the allegations were true, or need to apologize, right? Shouldn't it be the same for an athletic director?— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) February 1, 2018
Appearing on ESPN 101 in St. Louis, Mizzou AD Jim Sterk told host Bernie Miklasz that the Tigers have "moved on" from the controversy over Sunday night's scuffle between Mizzou and South Carolina women's basketball players.
"I don't mean to dodge on this at all, but we've got a great game against Mississippi State tonight -- the No. 2 team in the country -- and kind of in the words of that famous philosopher Forrest Gump: 'That's about all I've got to say about that.' We've spoken to people. I've said my piece, and that's all I've got to say about that."
Two players fell to the floor during Sunday night's 64-54 Gamecocks victory as they tried to take the ball from each other, but emotions took over as the pair traded shoves. Fellow Mizzou and Gamecocks players rushed to break the two apart as coaches from both teams ran onto the court as well to defend their players.
But the scuffle was one part of the story. The story became more about fan conduct - alleged spitting and racial epithets - from South Carolina fans and Sterk's response to it on a radio show.
"I’ll just say, surrounding the situation that we’ve had to deal with the last few days, I was very confused,” Tanner told the media. “I felt very strongly about what we stand for here at this university and women’s basketball, our fan base, our head coach, and the way we handle our business and have handled our business over the years.
When asked for their role in this drama, the SEC issued the following statement to WIS:
I have had discussions with athletics directors at both institutions. Competition among SEC teams is highly intense but can never compromise the expectation of respect between our institutions.
Coach Pingeton and Coach Staley have both worked tirelessly to build nationally-ranked teams comprised of outstanding student-athletes, and both teams should be celebrated for their success.
I look forward to meeting in person with both athletic directors very soon to reaffirm these shared priorities and expectations.
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