Former South Carolina women's basketball coach Pam Parsons, who...


COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Former South Carolina women's basketball coach Pam Parsons, who sued Sports Illustrated over an article that depicted her as a lesbian having an affair with a player, now faces the prospect of a federal jail term after admitting she perjured herself in the libel trial.

Sentencing for Parsons and ex-Lady Gamecock player Tina Buck, who also pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to jurors in Parsons' unsuccessful $75 million libel suit, will be held within 30 days.


Parsons and Buck, 21, who currently live together in Atlanta, were released on separate $10,000 unsecured bonds. They face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The pair left the courtroom without comment, but issued a prepared statement calling on 'just people' to reject Sports Illustrated's claims.

'We freely forgive the magazine for its action against us and for its method of defense concerning this matter. We also forgive all those who have found it necessary, and still find it necessary, to sit in judgment upon us and continue to condemn us,' the statement said.


The women entered their pleas in an emotion-charged hearing before U.S. District Judge Clyde Hamilton, who presided over the nine-day trial in May, and ordered the FBI to initiate a perjury probe.

At one point as Hamilton pressed Parsons about lying during the trial, the former coach broke down and cried out, 'Just send me to jail! I don't care.'

Hamilton ordered a brief recess, during which Parsons sobbed uncontrollably, her head on a courtroom bench.

When the 36-year-old former coach composed herself and returned, Hamilton accepted the guilty pleas to charges the pair lied under oath about patronizing a Salt Lake City lesbian nightclub.

Parsons and Buck also contradicted testimony from witnesses for the magazine who said they were involved in a love affair, but the only issue addressed in the perjury charge filed Oct. 25 was whether they had ever been to the Puss 'n Boots club.

In the biggest surprise in the libel trial, the prosecution introduced testimony from admitted lesbian Babette 'Babs' DeLay, who said she saw Parsons and Buck many times during the summer of 1983 'dancing and kissing' at the bar where she worked.

Prosecutors said the women told FBI investigators they lied about going to the bar because they believed if DeLay's testimony went unchallenged the jury would believe everything else she said.


Parsons started the hearing stoically, responding curtly to Hamilton's queries, but when the judge began to recount DeLay's testimony and press Parsons on how many times she visited club, the defendant asked if she could sit down, and her responses gave way to uncontrollable tears.

'You're acting like we knew (that we were lying) all the time,' Parsons sobbed. 'But when the FBI asked me about it I did not want anyone I knew to go through what I went through -- so I said what I said and I'm willing to pay the penalty.'

Hamilton pressed harder, asking her if she was confused during the key moments of her trial or if she knew her original testimony was 'blatantly false.'

'I couldn't tell you that because I don't remember most of those nine (trial) days,' Parsons cried out. 'It's fine with me, just send me to jail! I don't care!'

Parsons sued Sports Illustrated's parent company, Time Inc., over the February 1982 article titled 'Stormy Weather at South Carolina.'

Latest Headlines