The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees approved a historic seven-year, $22.4 million contract for women's basketball coach Dawn Staley.
Per the school's press release, Staley is now the highest paid Black head coach in her sport and one of the highest-paid women's basketball coaches in the country. Her salary is now the highest in the SEC, passing LSU's Kim Mulkey, who is set to make $2.5 million during her first year, per the Associated Press.
South Carolina announced 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." The head coach's 2021-22 compensation "begins at $2.9 million with the final year topping out at $3.5 million," per the school.
“I didn’t do this for me,” Staley said, according to USA Today. “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.”
Since she took over the program, the Gamecocks have reached the NCAA Tournament nine times, including three of the last six NCAA Final Fours (2015, 2017, 2021), and won the 2017 NCAA championship. The program has spent 25 weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll during her tenure.
"Dawn Staley is one of the nation's top coaches, regardless of the sport," South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner said in a statement. "She has built our women's basketball program from the ground up, and her teams have produced champions, both on and off the floor."
During the offseason, Staley led Team USA women's basketball to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
"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 said in a statement "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."
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