SEC Fines Missouri Athletics Director Jim Sterk Amid Dawn Staley Civil Suit

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)–SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has fined Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk $25,000 and mandated a Conference led review of South Carolina’s game management procedures and visiting team security.

This, in the wake of a civil lawsuit filed Thursday by University of South Carolina Head Basketball Coach Dawn Staley.

Staley filed the $75, 000 defamation lawsuit against Sterk in the Fifth Judicial Circuit in Richland County.

According to Staley’s lawsuit: “the defendant’s statement that Coach Staley intentionally promoted a hostile and negative atmosphere designed to incite riotous conduct at a college basketball game… was false, defamatory, reckless and made with actual malice.”

The defamation suit surrounds comments Staley claims Sterk made after the USC-Missouri basketball game on January 28, 2018 at Colonial Life Arena.


In reference to the SEC Fine against the Missouri AD, According to a release from Athletics Communications & Public Relations at the University of South Carolina:

“Both Missouri and South Carolina have cultivated highly successful women’s basketball programs, which enjoy tremendous fan support and have earned the respect of this office,” said Commissioner Sankey.  “While we always appreciate a healthy level of competitive intensity on the court, there is no place in this league for discord inside or outside of the arena.  I have had multiple conversations over the past few weeks with representatives of both schools about the problems emanating from their January 28 game and it has been my desire for those issues to be mutually resolved between the athletic programs and individuals involved.  Unfortunately, a mutual resolution does not appear imminent.  Our hope is that we can direct our focus back where it belongs – on our student-athletes and on-court competition.”

In levying a reprimand and fine, the SEC determined that Sterk’s public comments about South Carolina Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dawn Staley during a January 30 radio interview violated SEC Bylaw 10.5.1, which states “Coaches and administrators shall refrain from public criticism of other member institutions, their staff or players.”

“The SEC Code of Ethics, which was adopted by all of our member institutions, sets forth clear expectations for sportsmanship, mutual trust and respect among all participants, coaches and administrators,” Sankey said.

Further, SEC Bylaw 10.5.8 establishes the expectation of member institutions to implement policies that hold their various constituencies responsible for good sportsmanship and set standards for behavior that “reflect the high standard of honor and dignity that characterize participation in the collegiate setting.”  As such, the SEC has assigned two office staff members, Tiffany Daniels, Associate Commissioner for Competition and Senior Woman Administrator, and William King, Associate Commissioner for Legal Affairs and Compliance, to work cooperatively with South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner to review and, if necessary, further refine game management issues.

“We take seriously the reports from Missouri’s student-athletes about inappropriate language and actions directed at them by individual fans, and appreciate South Carolina’s willingness to engage in a full review of fan behavior from January 28.  Our goal is to explore additional mechanisms for enhancing each visiting team’s experience before, during and after competition.  Any lessons learned on ways to improve sportsmanship, hospitality and team security will be shared across the SEC,” Sankey said.

Per Athletics Office: University of South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner’s response:

“I welcome the review from the Southeastern Conference into our game management procedures and visiting team security. Our staff works diligently to create a secure environment for everyone at our home athletic events, including fans, student-athletes, coaches and staff for both the home and visiting teams. I will reiterate that we did a post-game review following the January 28 game against Missouri and received no confirmation of the alleged behavior by our fans directed towards the visiting team.”


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