ESPN writer: Mizzou AD is 'cowardly' for allegations, no apology to Staley, Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - 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.

You can see the full interview here.

Voepel also tweeted about the drama prior to Thursday's game.

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.

Two Mizzou players, Jordan Roundtree and Nadia Green, were ejected as a result of the scrum.

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.

South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner defended Gamecocks fans and coach Staley. 

"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.

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.