Dawn Staley’s Historic Contract: ‘Glimpse of Hope For Women’

In Summary

The seven-year, $22.4 million contract doesn’t only impact Staley as an individual, but to women coaches as a whole. 

Dawn Staley, the University of South Carolina women’s head basketball coach, is the highest-paid Black women’s coach in her profession. 

As a Hall of Fame player, she earned her stripes to receive a historic seven-year, $22.4 million contract to coach the Gamecocks. The monumental contract doesn’t only impact her as a person but to women coaches and athletes as a whole. 

“I think this is an opportunity for us to have a broader conversation on how much women get paid on the dollar versus their male counterparts and many Black women get paid to their white counterparts and men,” Staley said. “Having to fight for what I think is justifiable, it is a fight that many women across this country fight for every single day. Maybe it’s a glimpse of hope of one day getting what they deserve.” 

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

Staley wasn’t surprised by the contract because she had a set yearly number. She felt it was time to risk it all in order to move the needle and heighten the salary for women as coaches. 

“They could’ve said no,” said Staley on contract negotiations. “They could’ve said no, we’re not willing to invest in you that way, we pay you pretty good and that’s what you’ll get. But they wanted to be a part of history.” 

Staley’s basketball career included five WNBA All-Star appearances and three Olympic gold medals. Staley has proven she can develop young talent as well. Staley has seen eight Gamecocks selected in the WNBA Draft in the last five seasons, including 2018 No. 1 overall pick A’ja Wilson, who went on to earn WNBA Rookie of the Year and 2020 WNBA MVP honors. 

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.  

RelatedSouth Carolina’s Dawn Staley is AP Women’s Coach of the Year 

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. 

“What a great gift this game has given me,” Staley said. “I feel like I owe basketball. I am coaching to repay my debt to basketball. It is a gift that keeps on giving.” 

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