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Dawn Staley gets big raise with new 7-year, $22.4 million contract

The deals makes her one of the highest-paid coaches in her sport.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gamecocks Head Coach Dawn Staley has a new long-term contract, a deal that will keep her in Columbia for years to come and make her one of the highest-paid coaches in her sport. 

The school's board of trustees approved the seven-year, $22.4 million contract Friday for Staley, who led the team to its first National Championship in 2017. The contract makes her the one of the highest paid coaches in women's basketball and the highest-paid African-American coach in the sport, according to USC.

"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 school says that under the new contract, Staley's base salary will be $1 million per year with outside compensation starting at $1.9 million in the first year and escalation by $100,000 per year thereafter. Her 2021-22 compensation begins at $2.9 million with the final year topping out at $3.5 million. The contract includes additional 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."

The measure offers long-term security and stability for one of the most successful coaches in South Carolina Gamecock history, regardless of sport. Staley was hired as head coach back in 2008, and has turned the women's program into one of the most dominant ones in the nation.  In addition to the 2017 NCAA National Championship, she's also led the school to three Final Fours, an AP Top 25 finish in 10 straight seasons, and been the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament five times. She's also won six of the last seven SEC Tournament titles as well as five regular-season titles.

Staley was named National Coach of the Year in 2020 after leading the Gamecocks to a No. 1 final ranking before the postseason was cut short du to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under her tenure, the team has also been one of the nation leaders in attendance.  

Staley, Tanner, and USC Interim President Dr. Harris Pastides are expected to discuss her contract further at a news conference Friday afternoon. 

Staley, of course, is a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer for her own playing career. She won three Olympic gold medals, was an All-American at Virginia, and was a five-time WNBA All-Star.