Dawn Staley Earns $22 Million Contract, Becomes Highest-Paid Black Head Coach In Women’s Basketball

Dawn Staley has earned a seven-year, $22.4 million contract from the University of South Carolina, making her the highest paid Black head coach in women’s basketball, WISTV reports. School officials announced the news at a press conference on Friday, describing Staley as one of the nation’s top coaches in any sport.

“She has built our women’s basketball program from the ground up, and her teams have produced champions, both on and off the floor,” South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner said.Staley, who joined the program in 2008, has become one of three coaches to play in at least three of the last six NCAA Final Fours. The legendary coach also guided the program to the 2017 NCAA Championship.

“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,” the 51-year-old 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.”

Staley’s new contract includes a base salary of $1 million per year, USA Today reports. Additionally, she will earn outside compensation which will start at $1.9 million in the first year and increase by $100,000 per year thereafter. 

The Gamecocks leader joins UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who makes about $2.8 million per year, as the highest-paid coaches in women’s basketball. She also becomes one of about 12 women’s college basketball coaches who make at least $1 million per year, according to Bleacher Report. 

“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.”

The Philadelphia native also strives to inspire the Black community.

“Too often when Black people are in these positions [of leadership] we’re afraid to risk it all,” she said. “But I was unafraid to lose. I was principled in my belief that I’ve done enough. The money is the thing that pulls people in, it’s the highlighter, but for me, it’s about equity. It’s being able to know your worth, know you’re an asset to something and getting what you deserve. And it’s not a favor, it is earned.”

The two-time USA Basketball National Coach of the Year earned a gold medal with the Women’s National Team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Staley has led the U.S. to 11 international gold medals.