A timeline of South Carolina and Missouri’s feud, which has heated up in recent weeks over women’s basketball:
Feb. 19, 2017: Missouri defeats South Carolina in Columbia, Missouri, by a score of 62-60 on a last-second layup by star Sophie Cunningham. The game is officiated by Bryan Enterline, Metta Roberts and Luis Gonzalez.
Jan. 5, 2018: Ahead of the Gamecocks and Tigers meeting again, South Carolina star forward A’ja Wilson tells reporters that she sees the matchup as “kind of a rivalry game.”
Jan. 7, 2018: Mizzou defeats South Carolina at home again, by a score of 83-74. USC coach Dawn Staley is ejected after picking up two technical fouls, one for arguing a call and the second for failing to substitute a player in time. Star forward A’ja Wilson plays just 19 minutes before fouling out for just the fourth time in her career. Cunningham scores 27 points.
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After the game, Staley says Missouri defended Wilson by fouling her and adds it is “ridiculous” that “the best player in the country ... plays half the game.”
Staley also said she texted SEC coordinator of officials Sally Bell before the game to complain that Roberts and Gonzalez were both reassigned to officiate the game, and added that officials and the conference “need to do better.”
On social media, fans accuse Missouri and Cunningham of playing dirty, pointing to several extremely physical plays as proof.
Also that day, reporter Tashan Reed tweets that Mizzou fans heckled South Carolina players at the game by saying “you’re thugs like your coach.”
Jan. 10, 2018: Staley addresses local media for the first time since the game and says she contacted the SEC about the officiating.
Jan. 11, 2018: The SEC issues a statement to The State, saying, “ . . .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.”
Jan. 12, 2018: South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner says he also reached out to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey about the officiating in the Jan. 7 game, but he declines to reveal any details about the conversation.
Jan. 20, 2018: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch publishes a profile on Cunningham in which her family accuses South Carolina fans of harassing her on social media after the Jan. 7 game.
Jan. 26, 2018: Addressing the media before the teams’ rematch on Jan. 28, Staley is asked whether she felt Missouri’s play ever crossed a line and became dirty.
“I think there were some things out there that weren’t basketball, that weren’t basketball plays,” Staley said.
Jan. 28, 2018: Missouri takes the court at Colonial Life Arena to loud booing. Just before halftime, Jennings and Missouri senior Kayla Michael go to the floor after a loose ball. As they are tied up, a scuffle breaks out. In the center of it are Cunningham, Jennings and USC junior guard Doniyah Cliney.
After a 10-minute video review, referees assign Cliney and Cunningham offsetting unsportsmanlike fouls, give the Missouri bench a technical foul because its coaching staff left the sideline and eject two Tiger reserves for leaving the bench.
There are no more incidents for the rest of the game until the final play, when Cliney goes down after running into a “screen or an elbow or something,” according to Staley. She is able to return to the locker room under her own power and receive treatment, and South Carolina wins, 64-54.
In her postgame news conference, Missouri coach Robin Pingeton praises South Carolina and its fan base while describing a “tough environment.”
Staley pushes back against the idea that the win is especially meaningful and says the melee happened because her players were “on edge” from the previous matchup.
Also that night, former Missouri player Sierra Michaelis tweets “classy to see the SC fans spitting on Mizzou after the game lol.” Other Missouri fans pick up the claim on social media.
Jan. 30, 2018: In a news conference in Columbia, Missouri, Pingeton is asked about the alleged spitting.
“I was really disappointed with some things that transpired. There’s no place in our game for that. Fans have to be better all around. Our side, their side. These are daughters. There were some things that were really unfortunate that transpired,” Pingeton said. “Not only verbally but some other things you alluded to.”
Later that evening, Missouri athletics director Jim Sterk appears on a local radio station and explicitly accuses South Carolina fans of spitting on and using racial slurs toward Missouri players. He also says Staley encouraged the atmosphere in which those alleged actions took place.
Shortly after Sterk’s comments, South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner issues a statement saying USC investigated the claims and found no confirmed reports of what Sterk described.
Jan. 31, 2018: Tanner says he spoke to Sterk after his comments on Jan. 30, but was not aware of them at the time of the conversation. He says the accusations are “beyond understanding” and defends Staley’s integrity. He also states that he has reached out to SEC commissioner Sankey, but does not say what specifically the two spoke about.
Later, Staley addresses the media in her regularly scheduled availability in advance of the team’s matchup with No. 1 UConn. Staley calls Sterk’s allegations “serious and false” and praises South Carolina’s fan base.
In comments after Staley’s remarks, Tanner calls for Sterk to issue a retraction.
Feb. 1, 2018: Sterk makes a radio appearance in St. Louis. He is asked about his accusations and Staley’s response and says, “In the words of the famous philosopher Forrest Gump, ‘That’s all I’ve got to say about that.’”
When asked if he is worried about potential legal action, he responds that he just wants to move forward.
“We’ll see, but I’m hopeful there are some positives that come out of it,” he says.
Later, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issues a statement.
“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. ... I look forward to meeting in person with both athletic directors very soon to reaffirm these shared priorities and expectations.”
Before South Carolina plays Connecticut, Ray Tanner tells the Charleston Post and Courier that he has still yet to receive an apology or retraction from Sterk.
March 1-3, 2018: South Carolina and Missouri could potentially meet in the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.