USC Women's Basketball

Dawn Staley reveals NCAA’s Te’a Cooper decision explanation, Tennessee’s influence

Dawn Staley on Te’a Cooper: ‘Any lawyers out there who want to do some pro bono work?’

South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley talks about the NCAA’s decision to deny transfer Te’a Cooper’s hardship waiver and the possibility of legal action in the case.
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South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley talks about the NCAA’s decision to deny transfer Te’a Cooper’s hardship waiver and the possibility of legal action in the case.

South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley revealed the explanation she has been given by the NCAA as to why Gamecock transfer guard Te’a Cooper’s application for a hardship waiver was denied.

According to Staley, Cooper’s previous school, Tennessee, objected to the waiver, and while this did not itself cause the NCAA to reject the application, it did factor into the decision.

“I think it was a factor, but I don’t think it was the deciding factor,” Staley said.

The news was first reported by the Post and Courier.

USC applied for the waiver in mid-December after originally saying it would at the beginning of the season, then delaying a semester in order to allow Cooper to become acclimated to the school and the program, according to Staley.

Staley’s argument for Cooper’s waiver was that she had missed her sophomore season at Tennessee due to injury, and forcing her to sit out another year under the NCAA’s usual transfer rules would cost her a year of eligibility.

On Jan. 25, South Carolina announced that the NCAA had denied the waiver, though Staley said at the time she had only received word of the decision, not the explanation for it. However, Staley did suggest the day the decision was announced that ‘“if I’m (Cooper’s) parents, I would probably lawyer up.”

Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick previously said on Jan. 14 that there had been no restrictions on Cooper’s transfer from the program “to (her) knowledge.”

Staley said Friday that if she had been in Tennessee’s position, she would have likely objected to the waiver as well, and added that she believed their objection was based on the fact that the Lady Vols and Gamecocks compete in the same league.

Cooper’s transfer from Tennessee, however, was not without controversy, as she allegedly was forced out of the program after instigating a fight with a teammate, according to one report.

Greg Hadley: 803-771-8382, @GregHadley9

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