Racial ugliness exactly what women's sports doesn't need right now

So Thursday's Connecticut at South Carolina women's basketball game went off without a hitch.

And all seems to be right with the world again.

The No.1 ranked Huskies got another big win to stay undefeated. And they didn't get pummeled, spit on, or called racial slurs.

This is what reportedly happened to the visiting team in South Carolina's last home game.

Last Sunday, South Carolina, the defending NCAA national champion and currently the seventh-ranked team in the country, hosted No. 11 Missouri, a fellow Southeastern Conference team that had handed South Carolina a loss earlier this season.

The rematch, a 10-point South Carolina win, was heated, physical, included a scuffle and ejections, and ultimately yielded accusations by the Missouri athletic director that Missouri's players were spit on and called racial slurs at the end of the game.

To top it off, the Missouri athletic director, Jim Sterk, alleges that South Carolina coach Dawn Staley fostered and encouraged the hostile environment.

"It wasn't a great atmosphere. It was really kind of unhealthy, if you will," Sterk told a radio show. "We had players spit on and called (racial slurs) and things like that. It was not a good environment. And unfortunately I think Coach Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere, and it's unfortunate that she felt she had to do that."


More ugliness in women's sports.

The ugly by the way, just keeps getting worse on the USA gymnastics front. People are resigning left and right for having knowledge about years of sexual abuse and doing nothing. So ugly. So sad.

This South Carolina-Missouri situation is still under investigation. So far, no evidence of the accusations of Missouri players being spit on or called racial slurs has proved true.

It seems suspect.

All 10 players on the South Carolina roster are black.

Staley herself is black.

Why would fans who fiercely celebrate an all-black team suddenly use racial slurs against players on an opposing team.

But if they did, shame on South Carolina fans. They have the power to be a beacon of hope in the women's game. They have been tremendously loyal to their team.

South Carolina happens to lead the country in attendance for women's basketball with an average of 12,984 fans per game. No one else in the country is close.

Even second-place Connecticut, which helped South Carolina fill its arena for a sellout of 18,000 on Thursday, draws only 9,883 fans per game.

Staley, who is hoping for a retraction and an apology from the Missouri athletic director, is standing up for her fans.

"The accusations are serious and false, and they will be handled in the manner reflective of those facts," Staley told reporters. "Our fans are great. They're loyal. They're passionate. They understand basketball. They understand how to act in the stands. 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. I stand by what they represent. I stand by how they cheer. I stand by every single thing that they bring to the building because it's appropriate and well within game rules."

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey is planning to meet with South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner and Sterk next week.

Let's hope this gets cleared up. Women's basketball doesn't need to be sabotaging itself.

Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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