9 things to know about South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley
The South Carolina women’s basketball team is back in the Final Four, and head coach Dawn Staley is once again in the national spotlight — an increasingly familiar place.
Staley has grown into one of the biggest stars in college sports as she’s built the Gamecocks into a perennial national title contender.
Top-seeded South Carolina (36-0) will face No. 2 Iowa (30-6) at 9 p.m. Friday (ESPN). With a win, a matchup with either Virginia Tech or LSU awaits in Sunday’s national title game (3:30 p.m., ABC).
New to women’s basketball and the Gamecocks? Want to know more about their head coach? Read on.
Staley is 52 years old. She was born May 4, 1970 in Philadelphia.
Salary, contract status
Staley signed a seven-year $22.4 million contract extension in October 2021, making her the highest-paid women’s basketball coach in the SEC. The contract runs through the 2027-28 season. Her annual salary currently sits at $3 million, but it climbs to $3.5 million by the final year of the deal.
Coaching and championship history
Staley’s coaching career began in 2000 — while she was still a WNBA player. She coached the Temple women’s basketball team from 2000 to 2008, leading the Owls to six NCAA Tournaments.
South Carolina hired Staley before the 2008-09 season, and after a couple of losing seasons, Staley and the Gamecocks have reached 11 straight NCAA Tournaments (not including the COVID-19 canceled tournament in 2020).
Led by star A’ja Wilson, Staley and the Gamecocks won their first national title in 2016-17. They won their second title last season, beating UConn in the championship game.
Staley also served as the head coach for the Team USA women’s national team from 2017 to 2021, helping the team win the gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Staley starred for Virginia for four years, where she was a two-time Naismith Trophy winner in 1991 and 1992. A point guard, Staley helped led the Cavaliers to three Final Fours and a national title game.
A point guard by trade, Staley had a decorated playing career, including starring for Team USA in the Olympics and earning all-star honors in both the American Basketball League and the WNBA.
Staley won three gold medals as a player for the United States in 1996, 2000 and 2004. She also was the flag bearer for the U.S. in the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in 2004.
Staley played from 1999 to 2006 in the WNBA, drafted ninth overall by the Charlotte Sting in 1999 — where she spent all but the final two seasons of her career. Staley retired after a two-year stint with the Houston Comets, ending her WNBA career as a five-time All-Star. She averaged 8.5 points and 5.1 assists per game.
Staley is 5-foot-6.
About those outfits
Though known first and foremost for her basketball success, the 52-year-old has also drawn attention for her trendsetting style. While the Philadelphia Eagles were playing in the Super Bowl, Staley supported her hometown team by wearing an Eagles jersey during a game — a jersey for former quarterback Randall Cunningham. She’s mixed in a variety of blazers, jackets and basketball shoes as well as luxury looks from brands like Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga.
Fittingly, Staley’s dog is named Champ. A Havanese breed of dog, Champ is known to accompany Staley to practice, tournaments and even press conferences.
Related to Duce Staley?
It would be easy to make this mistake, as running back Duce Staley starred for South Carolina before breaking out with Dawn Staley’s beloved Eagles in the NFL. The two Staleys are not related, however.