South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley had some serious backup when complaining to the SEC league office about controversial officiating and physical play during the Gamecocks’ road loss to Missouri this past Sunday — USC director of athletics Ray Tanner also pleaded the team’s case to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.
Tanner revealed as much in a press conference Friday, though he did not specify what exactly he complained about, or how the league responded.
“I take it upon myself, and it doesn’t matter if it’s football, women’s basketball or a tennis bracket, if it’s part of the Gamecock family, I’m involved,” Tanner said.
During Sunday’s game, Staley was ejected for the first time in at least four years after drawing two technical fouls, and star forward A’ja Wilson fouled out for just the fourth time in her career. Meanwhile, many Gamecock fans felt Missouri got away with extremely physical, even dirty, plays.
After the game, Staley called out the SEC for assigning two referees to the game who had also called last year’s game between the two programs, which also resulted in a tough loss for South Carolina. She later confirmed that she had officially reached out to the conference office to complain and that she had received a response, but she declined to comment on any specifics.
When asked about the issue Friday, Tanner joked “now I’m going to get into trouble,” but followed Staley’s lead in confirming that he had spoken with SEC officials but not expanding on what he had actually said.
“I had conversations with the league office soon (after the game) and discussed some things about what transpired in the game, and you heard what Coach Staley had to say publicly. I got a chance to visit with our commissioner as well. So I’ll leave it at that,” Tanner said.
The SEC has not publicly announced any fine, suspension or reprimand for Staley for her comments, or any disciplinary action for the referees involved in the game. In a statement Thursday, a conference spokesperson said that “concerns related to officiating in any sport are properly addressed by SEC institutions internally through the SEC office and the appropriate sport officiating coordinator.”
“These internal communications are a regular occurrence, with the proper focus being on supporting and continued improvement of our officiating programs,” the statement continued.
“As officiating communications are addressed internally, the SEC office will have no further comment related to Sunday’s South Carolina-Missouri women’s basketball game.”
South Carolina and Missouri have a rematch on Jan. 28 at Colonial Life Arena.