Dawn Staley becomes highest paid Black female basketball coach

"This is an equitable statement and in the midst of all our inequities in our country," the University of South Carolina coach said.

Loading the player...

University of South Carolina’s women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley has inked a seven-year, $22.4M contract with the Gamecocks, making her the highest-paid Black coach in women’s basketball.

“Credit where it’s due,” Staley said, as reported by Bleacher Report. “This university and this state have a rich history of racism, and I’m not going to disregard that. But this is one of the most progressive decisions they’ve ever made. They need to be recognized for being committed to leading the way in gender equity in America. This is an equitable statement and in the midst of all our inequities in our country, I hope it’s a turning point.”

Per Bleacher Report, Staley’s “new salary will be $1 million per year, with outside compensation beginning at $1.9 million in the first year and escalating by $100,000 every year after,” the outlet writes.

Dawn Staley thegrio.com
Head coach Dawn Staley of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates after cutting the last piece of the net during the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Alamodome on March 30, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

“Dawn Staley is one of the nation’s top coaches, regardless of the sport,” said South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner in a statement. “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.”

Staley, 51, became head coach of the Gamecocks women’s basketball team in 2008. They won the NCAA championship in 2017 and in 2020, she was named National Coach of the Year.

Staley bagged a gold medal as coach of the United States’ women’s basketball team at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. She has helped the U.S. win 11 international gold medals.

The Philadelphia native who won a gold medal as a player with the US basketball team in 1996 and played for both the short-lived American Basketball League and the WNBA, is one of 12 women’s college basketball coaches who make at least $1M per year or more, including Adia Barnes (Arizona), Gary Blair (Texas A&M), Brenda Frese (Maryland), Kelly Graves (Oregon), Kim Mulkey (LSU), Vic Schaefer (Texas), Vivian Stringer (Rutgers) and Jeff Walz (Louisville), per USA Today

Staley said when she began contract negotiations she considered pay inequality in sports and the fact that WNBA players earn seven times less than their male counterparts.

“I didn’t do this for me,” Staley said. “I am an advocate of equal pay and overall, this is a huge statement for women and for Black women — and not just in sports but all over the country — when you think about how much less they’re paid on the dollar compared to men.”

Dawn Staley thegrio.com
Dawn Staley attends NYC Jefferson Awards presented by Multiplying Good at Capitale on March 03, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Multiplying Good)

“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.”

The WNBA Finals are going on now with the Phoenix Mercury and their stars Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi playing the Chicago Sky who boast All-Stars Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot and Kahleah Copper.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!

Loading the player...