South Carolina trustees approved a seven-year, $22.4 million deal with Dawn Staley, making her one of the highest-paid coaches in women's college basketball.
She also will become the highest-paid Black head coach in the sport.
The deal will keep Staley, 51, at the helm through the 2027-28 seasons. She has coached the Gamecocks for 13 seasons, taking the team to the Final Four three times in the past six tournaments (2015, 2017, 2021) and winning the NCAA Women's Tournament in 2017.
Staley said the contract represents a step toward women's equality. In May 2021, UConn gave legendary women's coach Geno Auriemma a five-year, $15 million deal retroactive to April 2020.
"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 in a school news release. "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."
Staley's base salary will be $1 million per year with outside compensation starting at $1.9 million in the first year and increasing by $100,000 per year. Her 2021-22 pay will be $2.9 million with her annual earnings reaching $3.5 million in her final season. The contract includes performance incentives of up to $680,000 per year, per the university.
Staley is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame career as a player. Her career included five WNBA All-Star selections and three Olympic gold medals.
"Dawn Staley is one of the nation's top coaches, regardless of the sport," Ray Tanner, South Carolina's athletic director, said in the news release. "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."
Staley also coached the United States team to a gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
--Field Level Media