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South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley won her second championship on Sunday night when the Gamecocks knocked off UConn, 64-49.
Staley and South Carolina took some heat following Friday’s Final Four win over Louisville for the team not being on the floor for the national anthem. She said it was simply a timing issue.
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The team was on the floor locked arm and arm for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before tip-off on Sunday.
“I don’t know who wrote an article about our players not being out on the court for the national anthem. We’re just creatures of habit, creatures of habit. I think the national anthem was played at the 12- or 10- minute mark, and that’s just not the time that we’re out on the court because of our pregame ritual,” Staley said. “If the national anthem is at 0:00 like it was today, we were out there standing for the national anthem.
“So whoever that person, journalist was that wrote that, please do your research, ask the questions before you go out and write an article, and then I’m called all kinds of names, our players are called all kinds of names. Before you do that, please fact check and don’t put us under the gun like that because it was a distraction for us.
“People were on all of my accounts and all that. I can take the heat. But when you write something and it’s during one of the most important times of our season, let it be factual. Let it be factual.
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“I think we could come up with a whole lot of different things you could write about our basketball team during this time than to write something like that that was full of untruths. And then the other articles come out from that, and then we’ re called unpatriotic, we’re called – some of the nastiness, and it’s because we’re a predominantly Black team.
“So when you do that, understand your power, and if it’s facts, I can’t fight that. But they were full of untruths.”
Staley’s team has stayed in the locker room during the anthem or protested in some form since the middle of the 2020-21 college basketball season. She told Andscape at the time that players were sitting during the national anthem in almost every game that season to “bring awareness to racial injustice in our country.”
“If opposing teams choose to play the anthem during the time we’re in the locker room, then we choose to stay in the locker room,” she said.
Staley added: “I love our country, too. I don’t like what our country has come to, or what our country has been, but I’d like to think that there are people in our country that’s going to lead us more in a unified way than a divisive way, and I’m here for that.”
According to Insider, most teams have stayed in the locker room as well until Louisville came out.
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Some Cardinals players were wearing Adidas-branded shirts with a message on the back: “No person in the United States, shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”