WBB: South Carolina Gamecocks women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley receives raise, extension
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WBB: Staley receives raise, extension

The South Carolina Board of Trustees approved a contract extension for Dawn Staley that keeps her among the highest-paid coaches in women’s basketball and the highest-paid coach in the SEC.

Staley and athletics directory Ray Tanner agreed on a new seven-year extension giving her guaranteed compensation of $2.9 million in year one with an escalator annually of $100,000.

By the end of the contract, she'd be making $3.5 million. Her contract runs through October 1, 2021 through April 15, 2028.

Photo by Chris Gillespie
Photo by Chris Gillespie (Chris Gillespie)

"Dawn Staley is one of the nation's top coaches, regardless of the sport," 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. The ability to keep Coach Staley at the University of South Carolina is great news for all Gamecocks. I join with our fans in looking forward to seeing the great achievements her program will continue to produce in the future."

Staley is believed to be the fourth women’s basketball coach in the elite $2 million club. Geno Auriemma makes about $2.8 million and Kim Mulkey makes a little over $2.5 million. Tara VanDerveer’s contract includes a clause that prohibits her salary from being revealed, but tax returns put her in the $2.3 million range.

Staley last got a raise and extension in 2017, on the heels of the national championship. In 2018, a life insurance program was added. Staley was scheduled to make $1.8 million this season, which would increase to $2.1 million in 2024-25, the final year of the contract.

When Staley signed that contract in 2017 it made her one of the five highest-paid coaches in the country. While it still had her in the top five, it became clear this summer that Staley was in line for a new deal.

Since Staley signed that contract every other SEC school had given out a new contract, and six programs handed out new contracts since the end of last season (not including the interim coaches at Florida and Mississippi State).

"It's always been an honor to represent the University of South Carolina, and this contract represents the University's commitment to supporting me and our women's basketball program," Staley said, also in a statement.

"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. 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. I thank Dr. Pastides, Coach Tanner and the Board of Trustees for providing that example today. And, lastly, I would be remiss to not also thank Butch Bowers, Angela O'Neal and our FAMS for their commitment and support."

Since Staley’s last raise, the sport has seen a spending spree. Vic Schaefer signed massive contracts at Mississippi State and then Texas and then just this summer there were substantial raises for Brenda Frese, Kelly Graves, Adia Barnes, Mike Neighbors, Joni Taylor, Lisa Bluder, Bill Fennelly, and Teri Moren.

That doesn’t even include the gamesmanship between Auriemma and Mulkey that saw LSU briefly make Mulkey the highest paid coach in the sport, only for UConn to give Auriemma a raise (retroactive to last season) to put him back on top.

All that, plus the preference to always have at least four years remaining on a contract for recruiting purposes, put Staley on deck.

Staley has the South Carolina program in better shape than it was even coming off the national championship in 2017. She has signed the top-ranked recruiting class in two of the last three years, classes that weren’t just the best in their cycle but were hailed as among the best ever.

The 2020 team was the consensus top team in the nation and the clear favorite to win the national championship before the NCAA Tournament was canceled. Last year, South Carolina made the Final Four, and the Gamecocks enter this season as one of the favorites to capture the national championship.

Aside from the Gamecocks, Staley coached Team USA to an Olympic gold medal this summer. She also interviewed for the Portland Trail Blazers’ head coaching position.

While other women’s college coaches have worked as NBA assistants, Staley is the only one known to interview for a head coaching position. Although she didn’t get the job, that contributed to the need to get a new contract done.

Table Name
Contract year Compensation University buyout Staley buyout

2021-22

$2.9 million

$3 million

$5 million

2022-23

$3 million

$2.5 million

$4.5 million

2023-24

$3.1 million

$2 million

$4 million

2024-25

$3.2 million

$1.5 million

$3.5 million

2025-26

$3.3 million

$1 million

$3 million

2026-27

$3.4 million

$500,000

$2.5 million

2027-28

$3.5 million

$250,000

$2 million

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