Dawn of a New Day: Staley’s $22.4 Million Contract Monumental for Women

In Summary

The University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach signed a massive seven-year, $22.4 million contract, making her the highest-paid coach in her profession. 

A new, fresh beginning is on the horizon for the University of South Carolina and for women as a whole in the sports industry. 

It’s a Dawn of a new day

On Friday, the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees approved a new contract for Dawn Staley, making her the highest-paid Black head coach in her sport and one of the country’s highest paid women’s basketball coaches. 

Staley signed a massive seven-year, $22.4 million dollar contract with the university through the 2027-28 season. 
 
“Dawn Staley is one of the nation’s top coaches, regardless of the sport,” said South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner. “She has built our women’s basketball program from the ground up, and her teams have produced champions, both on and off the floor. The ability to keep Coach Staley at the University of South Carolina is great news for all Gamecocks. I join with our fans in looking forward to seeing the great achievements her program will continue to produce in the future.” 
 
The breakdown of Staley’s contract

  • Base salary of $1 million per year with outside compensation starting at $1.9 million in the first year. Escalation by $100,000 per year thereafter. 
  • In the 2021-22 season, her compensation starts at $2.9 million with the final year rounding out at $3.5 million. 
  • The language in the contract includes more performance compensation opportunities up to $680,000 per year. 

“It’s always been an honor to represent the University of South Carolina, and this contract represents the University’s commitment to supporting me and our women’s basketball program,” Staley said. “Contract negotiations are challenging, but this one was especially important as I knew it could be a benchmark, an example for other universities to invest in their women’s basketball programs, too. Our game continues to grow and the time is ripe to make a big step forward, but only if universities foster that growth by committing resources that are equitable to those given to their men’s programs. I thank Dr. Pastides, Coach Tanner and the Board of Trustees for providing that example today. And, lastly, I would be remiss to not also thank Butch Bowers, Angela O’Neal and our FAMS for their commitment and support.” 

Under Staley, South Carolina has become one of three programs to play in at least three of the last six NCAA Final Fours (2015, 2017, 2021). She led the Gamecocks to a 2017 NCAA Championship. 

The South Carolina women’s basketball team finished in the top 25 in each of the last 10 seasons, including seven seasons with a top-10 finish. The women’s basketball program has earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament five times under Staley and spent 25 weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll. 

Fans, peers and athletes quickly congratulated the monumental moment in women’s history. 

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