COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - One day after issuing a statement regarding allegations made against USC fans, their behavior during Sunday's game, and USC head women's basketball coach Dawn Staley's "promotion" of intolerant behavior by fans, South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner sat before reporters at Colonial Life Arena still wondering what to make of comments made by Missouri AD Jim Sterk.
"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.
"Some things were said that were very confusing and we had an incident, so-called, that we needed to check out. We did. We did not find evidence or confirmation that that happened, but you do have things happen in your stadium from time to time that doesn't involve players or coaches, but we address those and, as I said, we didn't get any confirmation on that either with seven people that were very closely involved in the situation."
The former South Carolina baseball coach said he has spoken to Sterk and SEC officials since the allegations were brought to light, but he would not share the details of those conversations.
"The thing that's most important to me is that Coach Staley is comfortable with where it goes," Tanner said, "and the things that were said and she's comfortable in where we end up in the next few hours, the next couple of days with this. That's the most important thing to me, but I do believe a retraction is necessary from Jim Sterk's comments."
The comments stem from a scuffle that occurred between Missouri and South Carolina players during the first quarter of Sunday's game. Following the altercation, two Tigers were ejected from the game.
Staley, who is currently preparing her team to face UConn on Thursday, also addressed the accusations made by Sterk.
"The accusations are serious and false and they will be handled in a manner reflective of those facts," Staley said.
Needless to say, dealing with this war of words is the last thing Staley wants to worry about with top-ranked UConn coming to town Thursday and she has no intention of letting this incident affect her preparation.
"I'm a master compartmentalist," Staley said. "I'm a master at it. I think, anytime you have to deal with distractions, you deal with them and you prioritize and the priority right now is UConn and that's been my focus. Did I lose a little sleep last night? Yes, obviously, but there's another game to be played. I'm responsible for 12 individuals that want to beat UConn. So, I have to get my mind right to prep to help them get ready to try to win a game."
South Carolina will take on Connecticut at Colonial Life Arena at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Officials said less than 500 tickets will be on sale for the game beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
If you're not able to watch the game at Colonial Life Arena, the game will be televised on ESPN. Check your local listings for more information.