The lawyer representing South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley in her lawsuit against Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said Staley gave Sterk a chance to retract his comments accusing her of fostering a hostile, racist environment in Colonial Life Arena, but after he failed to do so, she had “no alternative” but to defend “the sterling reputation she spent a lifetime building.”
Butch Bowers, speaking to The State shortly after he filed suit in Richland County court seeking up to $75,000 in damages for defamation and negligence from Sterk, issued the following statement.
“After Mr. Sterk’s refusal to retract his statement and apologize, Coach Staley was left with no alternative but to respond to his false attack on her character and reputation. And so we moved forward with a lawsuit to address the defamatory and slanderous comments Mr. Sterk made about Coach Staley. We’re not going to let him destroy in one day the sterling reputation she spent a lifetime building. Coach Staley is going to be focused on coaching her team and winning games, and my colleagues ... and I will be focused on handling the lawsuit.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said, “we have just been made aware of the lawsuit. Because it is a legal matter, we have no comment at this time.”
Sterk’s office has not responded to a request for comment.