The Missouri Tigers have settled the defamation lawsuit brought against AD Jim Sterk by South Carolina head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, but it seems not much has been done to address the issue that prompted the lawsuit.
In the midst of working in concert with Major League Baseball on the issue of sports betting legislation, Missouri Tigers athletic director Jim Sterk now has one fewer matter on his platter. It’s unclear whether any action on the issue Sterk originally wanted to address has been taken, however.
On Thursday, May 24, per the Kansas City Star, the Missouri Tigers reached an agreement with South Carolina women’s head basketball coach Dawn Staley to pay $50,000 in exchange for Staley withdrawing her claim that Sterk had defamed and slandered her.
Staley’s claim arose over a radio interview Staley gave in which he claimed that she promoted an atmosphere that led to Mizzou players being called racial slurs and spat on.
Sterk did apologize for his comments that Staley promoted the behavior, but stands by his beliefs that the behavior took place in a road game against the Gamecocks last season.
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Sterk has stood by his assertions based on what he has been told by members of the Mizzou women’s basketball coaching staff and players, even though he was fined $25,000 by the SEC for his radio comments. Whether or not Staley promoted such activity is now no longer a legal issue, but that doesn’t mean the matter has been concluded for others involved.
An internal investigation by South Carolina has produced no results and thus far neither has a probe by the SEC. That points to a few possibilities.
Either Mizzou’s players and staff fabricated the events, South Carolina’s athletic department and the SEC are deliberately downplaying them in the hopes that they will be forgotten or South Carolina/the SEC has been unable to pin the behavior on any certain individual or group. A combination of those possibilities is also possible. Only those individuals involved know the truth of the situation and for individuals who are outside those positions, any postulating about what might be going on is speculative.
It’s more fruitful to speculate about results than motivations. In any situation other than Mizzou’s players and staff exaggerating and/or fabricating the treatment they received, the problem that led to this situation has not been addressed by paying $25,000 to Staley’s charity and $25,000 to her attorney. People in attendance at any event need to understand there are consequences for behavior that is unacceptable and face those consequences if they choose to violate those standards.
If the issues that Sterk raised concerns over do exist and South Carolina along with the SEC has done nothing to address them, then Missouri just paid $50,000 so its women’s basketball players could get further insulted and Sterk apologized for bringing to light a matter that needed to be addressed. In that scenario, it’s true that no good deed goes unpunished.