Slander suit could take Gamecocks' Staley from home court to courtroom against Mizzou AD

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Gamecocks' own Coach Dawn Staley slaps a suit on Mizzou's athletic director, for $75,000.

The lawsuit claims Jim Sterk made slanderous comments about Staley and USC fans after a heated January match-up. Since the comments against Coach Staley, Gamecock fans have been heated and outspoken in her defense.

One prominent Columbia attorney, Lewis Cromer, says she has every right to a trial.

"She has every basis for bringing an action of defamation against him and likely against his employer, the- Missouri," Lewis Cromer says.

Cromer has been practicing law for decades and has even represented college coaches and athletics directors in similar suits.

"I suspect that what she's doing is trying to spank this guy and tell him 'quit that stuff and don't do this anymore, and let's maintain civility and ethical behavior with our universities and our young people, and let's just quit this,'" Cromer says.

Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk had this to say to a radio station following the Gamecocks v. Tigers January match-up: "It wasn't a great atmosphere. It was really kind of unhealthy if you will. We had our players spit on, called the N-word, and things like that. It was not a good environment and unfortunately, I think Coach Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere, and it's unfortunate that she felt she had to do that."

Her attorney writes the lawsuit's goal is to clear Staley's good name. She will have to prove certain things, like malice, since she's considered a public figure. She will have to prove Sterk knew his words were not true when he said them.

"But every coach has the same rights as the individual has, not to have their reputation tarnished and ruined by false statements that are maliciously made that do not have to be made that cause them damages!" Cromer says.

He believes it's a good sign for Staley that the SEC hit Sterk with a $25,000 fine.

On the suit, Staley told us questions should be directed to her attorney, Butch Bowers, who hasn't returned phone calls.

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