South Carolina head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley defended her decision to cancel a home-and-home series with BYU once again on Wednesday.
The Gamecocks were initially slated to play BYU to open the 2022-2023 season, but the game was dropped from the schedule on Sept. 2 after a Duke volleyball player reported an alleged racial slur directed towards her during a game at BYU.
On Sept. 9, BYU concluded its investigation of the incident after finding no video or audio evidence that supported the allegation. Following the investigation, BYU removed the ban against the fan that said the alleged racial slur.
Duke’s athletic director Nina King responded with a statement in which she double-downed on her support of the Blue Devil volleyball team.
On the same day BYU released its finding, Staley reaffirmed her position on canceling the season opener against BYU. On Wednesday, Staley said she had to stick with the team’s perspective.
“Anything that has come out of Duke’s side of it, that's what they came out with. Whatever comes out from the BYU side of it, that’s their side of it,” Staley said. “We all got a perspective. Whether you like it or not, it’s a perspective. And we choose to go with what we believe is the truth for us, and we're just going to have to just continue down that road.”
Staley said that while BYU may have found evidence that does not support the allegations, she will continue to stand behind the Duke player who came forward with the incident.
“That's her story, so that's what she's sticking with. Until she comes out and says (she’s wrong), then I'll be the first to apologize,” Staley said. “I’ll be the first to say I'm wrong, but that has yet to come out, so that's what I'm sticking with.”
South Carolina will now open its season against East Tennessee State.
Staley also voiced her support for Brittney Griner, the WNBA player who is serving a nine-year sentence in a Russian prison after being detained in February when Russian authorities accused her of carrying drugs. Griner and Staley have developed a personal relationship over the years after she was Griner’s coach on the USA women’s basketball team in 2020.
“She's an American over in Russia at the worst time that anybody can be in Russia. Why wouldn't I want to send prayers her way and just make sure that she's in a good headspace?” Staley said. “I just want her to continue to have hope that people are voicing their thoughts and their prayers on her behalf.”
During the press conference, Staley sported a “WE ARE BG” pin — something she has consistently worn and tweets every day.
“I want everybody that's locked up abroad as an American to come home,” Staley said. “Brittney is probably the best way for another prisoner or several prisoners to get home just because of her notoriety and her celebrity.”