Dawn Staley's name floated for Temple job: 'I don't want to coach in the men's game,' she says

It's no surprise when Dawn Staley's name comes up whenever there is a basketball coach opening, even though she already has one of the best jobs in women's basketball.

It's not even surprising when the South Carolina coach's name surfaces as a possible candidate for a men's coaching job, given the success Staley has had — first as a legendary player and now as a legendary coach.

The least surprising thing of all is when Staley's name shows up on a wish list for a vacancy in Philadelphia, where Staley was born and raised and has become an icon.

So, when one pundit suggested Staley should become the next coach of the Temple men's basketball team — before the university hired Penn State associate head coach Adam Fisher on Wednesday — there wasn't a huge backlash — except in one particular corner of the country.

And despite the chatter, the 52-year-old, who is busy preparing her Gamecocks for yet another Final Four, dispelled any notion that she is considering leaving Columbia, South Carolina, for any other job, including the Philadelphia university where she once coached the women's team to prominence from 2000-08.

When asked her thoughts Thursday at the NCAA women's Final Four in Dallas about her name being suggested for the Temple men's basketball job last week, Staley replied, "No thoughts. I don't want to coach in the men's game."

But how exactly did we get here?

South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley stands on the court during team practice at American Airlines Center in Dallas ahead of Friday's Final Four.
South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley stands on the court during team practice at American Airlines Center in Dallas ahead of Friday's Final Four.

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Temple needs a new coach; enter calls for Staley

Earlier this month, former Temple men's basketball player Aaron McKie stepped down as the Owls' men's coach after four seasons and a 52-56 record. That prompted speculation about who could take over the program and lead Temple back to prominence.

On March 23, CBS Sports analyst Seth Davis floated his candidate on Twitter:

"If Temple really wants to win basketball games it should turn the keys over to a Philly native who is a proven winner. Her name is Dawn Staley. Easy choice."

Some called the suggestion a "great call" and a "home run hire."

Others replied that it "would be a step down for her," given that she's already coached South Carolina to two national championships and has the Gamecocks two wins away from a third.

'Hootie' hoots at call for Dawn Staley to join Owls

One famous name was adamantly against the idea.

Musician Darius Rucker, former lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish, a South Carolina alumnus and Gamecocks superfan, blasted Davis' suggestion in a reply on Twitter.

“U really think @dawnstaley wants to leave the Dynasty that she has built at @GamecockWBB. Wow. Awful take there,” Rucker tweeted back at Davis.

Rucker's response was echoed by many, especially other South Carolina fans, but also women's basketball fans in general, who questioned why Staley would leave a program where she is currently the highest-paid coach in women's college basketball — at more than $3 million a year — when Temple seems unlikely to be able to match that even for the men's coaching job.

Staley spells success

Staley has a résumé that would certainly attract interest from all quarters of basketball. As the point guard for Virginia, she was a two-time Naismith College Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992. As a pro, Staley was a five-time WNBA All-Star and a three-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA. She coached Team USA to the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in 2021. In 23 years as a college coach — eight years at Temple at 15 at South Carolina — Staley has compiled a 574-185 record and on Wednesday was named Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year for the third time.

The Temple opening wasn’t the first time Staley’s name has been mentioned for a men’s coaching job. She was linked to NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers job in 2021.

“I’ve talked to the Portland Trail Blazers, and that’s the extent of it,” Staley said during a Zoom call with reporters in 2021. “I’ve talked to them.”

Staley's South Carolina Gamecocks, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA women's tournament, will face No. 2 Iowa on Friday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the second of two Final Four games. No. 1 seed Virginia Tech will take on No. 3 seed LSU in the first national semifinal (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: South Carolina's Dawn Staley shoots down coaching men's basketball