Historic Moves: Dawn Staley Becomes Highest-Paid Black Head Coach In Women’s Basketball

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From the hardwood to the sidelines, WNBA legend Dawn Staley has used her passion and knowledge for the game of basketball to elevate the sport, and she’s shattering glass ceilings along the way. According to ESPN, the Hall of Famer recently made history by becoming the highest-paid Black head coach in women’s basketball after receiving a contract extension.

Staley—who has served as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina for 13 years—inked a seven-year contract extension with the school in which she will earn $22.4 million by the 2027-28 season. The deal is historic as she is now one of the highest-paid basketball coaches in the country. Under her guidance, the Division I basketball team has hit several milestones, solidifying the school as a top contender in the Southeastern Conference. Her team took home the national title in 2017 and has been to three NCAA Final Fours. The Gamecocks also spent 25 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on The Associated Press’ top five list.

Staley says the contract signifies the University of South Carolina’s commitment to investing in the advancement of its women’s basketball program and hopes other institutions will follow suit.

“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,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “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.”

The contract is a pivotal moment in women’s sports. Research shows NCAA Final Four men’s coaches make nearly double the average salaries of women’s coaches.

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