Dawn Staley is being criticized for ‘pulling the race card’ after claiming ‘black and brown women’ who refereed the Iowa-LSU women’s basketball final should not be ‘run over’ after review found substandard officiating was: ‘Why does it have to be about color?’

Dawn Staley has come to the defense of the “women of black and brown skin” who led the women’s college basketball championship last spring — and some fans aren’t happy about it.

After LSU defeated Iowa in the finals last April, the NCAA reviewed the game’s questionable performance and found that the performance was actually lower than previous years.

Staley went to

“So the independent review was done under anonymity, but it is known who the officials were… all women with black and brown skin,” she wrote. Now that they’ve been thrown under the bus, let’s not let them get run over.’

However, some fans accused Staley of ‘racebaiting’ and insisted the officials’ performance was the only important factor.

‘What does their race have to do with it? I only care about the final performance’, one said on X. “(The) referees absolutely sucked that Iowa LSU game and it’s a good thing they reviewed it and made it public.”

South Carolina college basketball head coach Dawn Staley attends a practice this year

According to the review, the mistakes made included a foul on LSU's Angel Reese (above)

According to the review, the mistakes made included a foul on LSU’s Angel Reese (above)

Some fans were angered by Staley's response to the NCAA review findings

Some fans were angered by Staley’s response to the NCAA review findings

1699643203 818 Dawn Staley is being criticized for pulling the race card

“When all else fails, pull the race card…” another added.

Another fan said“I would think that as a coach in a sport that fights for (notoriety) in a year when people finally care, you would be shocked by the pathetic actions of those referees. You can’t honestly say you didn’t find their “effort” atrocious. Driven a lot of potential new fans away from the game.”

Others, however, agreed with the point Staley was trying to make.

“The fact that they are Women of Color is the point,” says one said. ‘They may never get the chance to referee at this or any level again. If the referees were white, there would be no review. It amazes me that they cannot see beyond what they are entitled to. Keep speaking the truth to Power Coach Staley!”

Another added, ‘Right and they are behaving like 3% (decline in referee performance) is huge…. Most don’t even leave that as a tip, lol,” someone said.

Staley said on a podcast in May that she wasn’t sure if the play’s story was because it was “two black officials or just because it was a bad referee, but I know what’s going to happen to those two officials… I have to watch for them too , because that’s how it is.’

Nevertheless, NCAA women’s basketball vice president Lynn Holzman said the referees were judged on the accuracy of their calls and that the overall accuracy rating fell short.

“For example, in the championship game itself, we typically have a performance that I think historically is 91%,” she said. ‘In that game the percentage of correct calls was below that, about 88%. That is actually the case.’

Staley, seen as a coach versus Notre Dame, was a strong voice in supporting black coaches

Staley, seen as a coach versus Notre Dame, was a strong voice in supporting black coaches

The NCAA did not provide the rating or details to the AP, but an independent review of LSU-Iowa conducted by an official who did not participate in the game found the percentage of correct calls was much lower than 88%. (Out-of-bounds violations were not included in the independent analysis; it was unclear whether they were included in the NCAA grade.)

According to the independent review, fouls committed during the game included a foul on Reese at the end of the first quarter, which was her second of the game. Two offensive fouls were missed in the third quarter, one for each team.

Both resulted in video monitor reviews, but neither led to the attacking player being punished, said the official, who made the review to AP only on condition of anonymity because they feared the criticism could affect their careers.

A two-time national champion, Staley has become an increasingly vocal voice in supporting Black women in the coaching ranks and her own players. Twice last season — after a win over UConn and after the loss to Iowa — she defended her team’s playing style against what she said were comments suggesting the Gamecocks were thugs.

“So don’t judge us by the color of our skin. Judge us by the way we approach the game,” she said in April.