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Dawn Staley, Ray Tanner address fallout from Missouri game

Dawn Staley didn't waste any time addressing the elephant in the room Wednesday.

Coming in to address the Gamecocks' top-10 match-up with Connecticut, she immediately dove into the topic that's dominated headlines over the last 24 hours.

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Photo by Chris Gillespie

The accusations are serious and false," she said, bluntly. "They will be handled in a manner reflective of those facts."

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Reports surfaced after Sundays' 64-54 win over Missouri that fans hurled racial slurs at the Tigers players.

After that, Missouri athletic director told KTGR in Columbia, MO that Staley was in part responsible for the hostile atmosphere at Colonial Life Arena Sunday.

Since then athletic director Ray Tanner has spent time on the phone with Sterk Tuesday night and Wednesday morning as well as speaking with the league office.

He wouldn't go into detail on those conversations, but did say he knows one thing he wants to come out of this.

"I do believe a retraction is necessary of Jim Sterk's comments," he said.

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The university conducted an investigation into the events alleged from Sunday night, and Tanner said nothing was found in terms of fans yelling slurs or any players being spit on.

He did say that the university put extra security and police in the opposing team's tunnel to prevent those kinds of things from happening.

"(Staffers) were contacted that were in the vicinity and asked questions about what and comments that were made and potential issues we had in there," Tanner said. "As we said, we didn’t get any evidence or confirmation that it was negative.”

This is the first incident ever of the fans at Colonial Life Arena allegedly yelling those words and spitting on players since Staley took over in 2008.

“They understand basketball. They understand how to act in the stands," Staley said of the fans." If I could uproot them and put them in every women’s basketball arena, every coach that represents that particular fan base would be tremendously proud of what they bring to the table. I stand by our fans.”

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Now the Gamecocks have to turn their attention from this to hosting No. 1 UConn Thursday night.

Staley admitted these allegations cost her a few hours of shut-eye Tuesday night, but now she's ready to get her team prepared to play.

“I’m a master compartmentalist. I’m a master at it. Any time you have to deal with distractions, you deal with them and you prioritize," Staley said. "The priority right now is UConn. Did I lose a little sleep last night? Yes, obviously. There’s another game to be played. I’m responsible for 12 individuals that want to beat UConn.”