Dawn Staley has become the highest-paid Black coach in women’s college basketball after signing a 7-year contract worth $22.4 million with the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
According to Rolling Stone, the contract includes a base salary of $1 million per year, with outside compensation starting at $1.9 million the first year and rising by $100,000 each season.
Her earnings per the contract will also make her one of the highest-paid coaches in the sport on the same level as Geno Auriemma, the head coach of the dynastic Connecticut Huskies.
“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,” Rolling Stone quoted her as saying in a statement.
“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.”
Staley, 51, in an interview with ABC News, thanked U.S. football star Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. women’s national team players for fighting for equal pay.
“To Megan and crew, I appreciate you for your fight,” she said. “I hope that one day, everybody sits where I’m sitting, that has been discriminated against.
“It’s our time, in women’s sports, and for women in general, it’s our time. I think now, this is going to become a popular right thing to do, and I hope it becomes the norm because it’s the right thing to do.”
Staley has been in charge of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks for 13 years and has guided the women’s basketball team to three NCAA Final Fours and the 2017 NCAA Championship title. She also guided the Women’s National Team to a gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in August.
“Dawn Staley is one of the nation’s top coaches, regardless of the sport,” said Ray Tanner, the South Carolina Athletics Director, 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.”
Staley also has an impressive playing career, winning three Olympic gold medals and two World Cup titles. She was named in the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time 2011.