For University of South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley, 2017 could not possibly get any better.
From being named the head coach of the USA Women’s Basketball Olympic team, to winning the first NCAA basketball championship in the history of South Carolina, and having THREE (!) players drafted in the top ten of the WNBA Draft, you would imagine that would be the pinnacle for any head coach.
Apparently, the University of South Carolina felt the need to one-up all of it. On Friday, the university gave extensions to both her and the men’s head coach, Frank Martin. For Staley, this will be the third extension she has received (with the first coming in 2013 and the last one coming in 2015) from South Carolina, with the last making her the first women’s coach in school history to make $1 million a year.
Let’s take a moment to break down what this means for both her and the school.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR DAWN STALEY:
Obviously, this is a big win for Staley. On top of being extended another four seasons (her last extension had her staying until the end of the 2020-21 season), Staley will have a chance to not only become the winningest coach in program history (she currently has 301; Nancy Wilson has the record with 380), but can win multiple championships with a roster that she will have full control over.
After nine seasons with South Carolina, Staley has proven her worth to the school, which is why they have done all they can to keep her there. After the 2012-13 season, when Ohio State came knocking at her door, South Carolina gave her an extension and a pay raise.
Two years later, Staley was bumped up to $1.1 million a season, becoming only the fifth coach in women’s basketball history to make over $1 million a season. Her newest contract bumps her up to $1.45 million, the second-highest in women’s basketball behind (no-brainer here) UConn’s Geno Auriemma.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR SOUTH CAROLINA
For the school, keeping Staley in the lead chair can only be a good thing. By the time her new contract ends, she’ll have coached the Gamecocks for 18 seasons (which will pass Nancy Wilson (13) as the longest in program history), and she’ll only be 55. At the pace and energy Staley keeps, she could go on coaching for far longer than that, and that gives South Carolina a chance to overtake UConn as the premier program in the NCAA.
Staley has taken the program to seven straight postseason appearances, and has done a master job at recruiting while also drawing away top talent from other schools (Kaela Davis, Allisha Gray). Having a constant presence behind the bench is not only a net positive for the school, but taking care of a coach who leads your team to success (hint to a particular school in the Pac-12) will show prospective recruits that you are all-in on the program.
For both Staley and South Carolina, the contract extension is not just a show of faith from both parties, but the cherry on top of the best season in South Carolina women’s basketball history.