South Carolina coach Dawn Staley got a special message from another Hall of Famer on Sunday.
NFL Hall of Famer and current Colorado football coach Deion Sanders wished Staley and the Gamecocks well in their lead-up to their history-making game. The Gamecocks women’s basketball team plays Notre Dame on Monday in Paris (1 p.m., ESPN), the first women’s college basketball game to take place there.
Staley, who was elected into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, and Sanders are both spokespeople for AFLAC insurance, which is among the sponsors for the game.
“Coach Staley, I love you, I appreciate you what you bring to those young ladies,” Sanders posted on his X (formerly known as Twitter) account. “What you have accomplished in life, in victory and defeat, and how classy and the bravado and love you give off — it is infectious.
“... I am going to watch you do what you do in France while we are over here doing what we do. Who else deserves it more than you do? Nobody.”
Staley has built the Gamecocks into a powerhouse since taking over the program, winning two national championships, seven regular-season Southeastern Conference titles and five Final Four appearances.
Getting a chance to be the first NCAA game in Europe carries special significance.
“I think it’s a big deal,” Staley said of the Paris trip. “I do because for the longest we’ve had to watch the NBA go over there and play games. We have to watch the NFL, they go over to Europe to play games. And yet, the only time that women are playing this is during an international competition, like a World Cup or the Olympic Games. “Here we’re doing something a little bit different. We’re starting the women’s basketball season off. So I know we’re the first, but we won’t be the last because other teams should want to experience it. Win, lose or draw. They should want to experience what we’re about to venture into.”