COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s Dawn Staley has called out ESPN and its ESPY awards show for not inviting national player of the year Aliyah Boston to its ceremonies on Wednesday night.
Staley mused publicly on social media how the people who planning the ceremonies decided “it was a great idea not to invite” the woman who won several national awards as one of the best players in women’s college basketball last season.
“Not one person was able to see the uproar this would cause? There’s definitely something wrong with the make up of the room,” she said on Twitter.
Boston, a 6-foot-5 rising senior, captured the Wooden Award and AP honors as player of the year. She was also named Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four after the Gamecocks defeated Louisville and UConn on the way to the title.
Boston is nominated for “Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports,” with Florida State soccer player Jaelin Howell, Oklahoma softball player Jocelyn Alo and Boston College lacrosse star Charlotte North. The award is being given out on the ESPY’s Preview Show before the main broadcast.
ESPN and the ESPYs have “the utmost respect” for Boston, Staley, and the Gamecocks, according to a statement provided by ESPN Senior Director of Communications Jay Jay Nesheim. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions and a new venue with less seating capacity, organizers “prioritized athlete invitations to focus on specific awards that will be handed out during the broadcast.”
South Carolina women’s basketball spokeswoman Diana Koval said that as of Monday, Boston had not been invited. Staley had not planned to attend the ceremonies.