College basketball: Aliyah Boston comments on ESPY invites

South Carolina's Aliyah Boston was presented the WBCA Player of the Year award during a press conference at the Final Four at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Min.  on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston was presented the WBCA Player of the Year award during a press conference at the Final Four at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Min. on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

tglantz@thestate.com

South Carolina women’s basketball star Aliyah Boston issued the following statement Wednesday in the wake of not being invited to ESPN’s annual “ESPYs” awards show despite being a nominee.

Boston, in her statement, said the national sports network only invited her after the social media awareness that followed a public revelation that she hadn’t originally received an invitation.

“To be nominated for an ESPY this year meant the world to me and my family. While it hurt finding out that they wouldn’t be televising the category despite it being televised last year, and had no intentions for me to attend … it hurt more to see ESPN change course and invite me only after social media caught wind of it. Respectfully, I declined.

“I’m used to this. It’s just another moment when the disrespect and erasure of Black women is brushed off as a ‘mistake’ or an ‘oversight.’ Another excuse for why our milestones and accomplishments aren’t a ‘priority’ this time, even now, 50 years after Title IX.

“To every Black girl and every Black woman: no one can take away what God has in story for us. You matter. You are valuable. You are a priority. You are seen, and you are LOVED — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

The ESPN broadcast of the “ESPYs” airs Wednesday night from the 3,400-seat Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.

Boston was nominated for the “Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports” award — but the winner was announced Tuesday during a “preview show” for the “ESPY’s.” Oklahoma softball’s Jocelyn Alo won the honor.

ESPN in a statement to The State on Monday said that awards not being presented during the show’s live broadcast factored into which athletes received invites to the event in Los Angeles.

“We have the utmost respect for Aliyah Boston, Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks,” ESPN said in the statement. “Due to both COVID restrictions and a new venue with much less seating capacity than previous shows, ‘The 2022 ESPYs’ prioritized athlete invitations to focus on specific awards that will be handed out during the broadcast.”

South Carolina head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley weighed in Sunday night on social media with support for Boston.

“Like really….who in the room from @espn @ESPYS decided it was a great idea not to invite @MarchMadnessWBB NPOY DPOY….not one person was able to see the uproar this would cause? There’s definitely something wrong with the make up of the room……the fight continues….#WBBSTANDUP,” Staley said in the Twitter post.

Boston’s 2021-22 season was one for the ages. During the Gamecocks’ national championship season, the South Carolina forward was named Unanimous National Player of the Year; Naismith Defensive Player of the Year; SEC Player of the Year; SEC Defensive Player of the Year; and NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Boston averaged 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, and had a team-high 90 blocks and a team-best 77% free throw percentage.

This story was originally published July 20, 2022 12:27 PM.

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Profile Image of Dwayne McLemore

Director of Sports at The State in Columbia, South Carolina. A University of South Carolina Class of 1997 graduate who joined The State in October 2007. I’m part of the APSE award-winning Sports staff that includes our work on the South Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson Tigers. Previously worked for The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News and Gaston (North Carolina) Gazette.

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