Dawn Staley Broke Down in Tears in Emotional Postgame Interview After South Carolina’s Title Win Over Iowa

Screengrab on Twitter/ TSN

The women’s NCAA tournament wrapped up on Sunday with a fairytale ending for Dawn Staley and the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks, who beat the Iowa Hawkeyes, 87—75, to secure its third national title in school history and become the 10th undefeated champion in Division I history.

After the final whistle, Staley struggled to find the words to describe what she was feeling and needed a minute to compose herself. In the postgame interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe, the Gamecocks coach teared up on camera and appeared to be completely overwhelmed with emotions.

“I’m so proud, so proud,” Staley told Rowe. “I am so incredibly happy for our players. It doesn’t always end like you want it to end, much like last year… I’m just super proud of where I work, I’m super proud of our fans. It’s awesome. It’s unbelievable.”

This past season, Staley’s Gamecocks bulldozed their way to a perfect 38-0 record one year after falling short to Iowa in the Final Four. Despite trailing Iowa by as many as 11 points in the first quarter, South Carolina avenged last year’s semifinals loss with an all-around dominant performance in which four players recorded double figures; freshman Tessa Johnson led the way with 19 points while star center Kamilla Cardoso had 15 points and 17 rebounds.

Staley, the AP Coach of the Year, now boasts a 109—3 record in her last three seasons at South Carolina and becomes the fifth coach to win three championships, joining Geno Auriemma, Pat Summitt, Kim Mulkey and Tara VanDerveer.

“You have to let young people be who they are,” continued Staley. “But you also have to guide them and help navigate them. When young people lock in and have a belief and have a trust, and their parents have that same trust, this is what can happen. They made history. They etched their names into history books.”

Kristen Wong


Kristen Wong is a Staff Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. She has been a sports journalist since 2020. Before joining SI, Kristen covered four NFL teams as an associate editor with the FanSided NFL Network and worked as a staff writer for the brand’s flagship site. She has written about soccer, the NFL, NBA, and MLB since 2020, and outside of work, has dreams of running her own sporty dive bar.