During Sunday’s game against South Carolina, the Missouri women’s basketball players were allegedly the targets of racism from the opposing team’s fans.
According to Athletic Director Jim Strek, the women were subjected to “the n-word” in addition to being spat upon.
“It wasn’t a great atmosphere. It was really kind of unhealthy,” Strek said in a radio interview on Tuesday. “We had, you know, players spit on, and the called ‘the n-word’ and things like that. I mean it was not a good environment.”
Strek went on to say that the fans’ behavior was likely encouraged by that of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.
“I think Coach Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere and it’s unfortunate that she felt she had to do that,” he said.
Both teams have a problem
Robin Pingeton, Missouri’s coach, was slightly more tempered in her response. She didn’t blame South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, choosing instead to call on fans of both teams to do “better.”
“There’s no place in our game for that. Fans got to be better all around,” she said, according to the St Louis Dispatch. “Our side, their side, everybody’s side. Fans got to be better. These are daughters playing a game they love to play.”
“It’s really unfortunate. But you’ve got two fan bases that are passionate and just got to clean it up a little bit,” she added.
Pingeton was likely referring to the fact that South Carolina players had reportedly received similar treatment when they visited Missouri. An attendee on Twitter claimed that a Missouri fan called the players “thugs”.
As for South Carolina side, the athletic director Ray Tanner reportedly said that the school was looking into Strek’s allegations against Dawn Staley. However, Tanner said that they had “received no confirmation of the alleged behavior directed at the visiting team by fans at the game.”