South Carolina Women’s Basketball: Dawn Staley on her future

Dawn Staley is in the second year of a seven-year contract with South Carolina.

Dawn Staley is in the second year of a seven-year contract with South Carolina.

tglantz@thestate.com

Dawn Staley doesn’t have a timeline for her retirement. Whenever this happens, it will involve a little more time for streaming.

“I’m going to have to watch a lot of Netflix shows,” Staley joked during the SEC’s spring meetings this week. “I’m certainly losing. I hear our players talk all the time. Like, I just finished ‘Ozark’. I have some ‘Bloodline’ (episodes) that I have to get to. ‘Lincoln Lawyer’, I have to come to this.

Staley is fresh from his second national championship coaching the South Carolina Gamecocks. She won more than 77% of her games as a head coach at Columbia, and looks poised to take a place among the most winning coaches of all time in the history of women’s college basketball — if she so chooses.

That said, Staley, 52, readily admitted that he doesn’t see himself training well until he’s 60, like Geno Auriemma at UConn or Tara VanDerveer at Stanford. Both are 68 years old.

Speaking with The State, Staley noted that retirement – which is not in his thoughts for the immediate future – is not so much an age decision as a feeling. When the time is right, she’ll know when to walk away.

“I mean, it’s totally a sensation,” Staley said. “I really didn’t have a dream job. Maybe go back to Virginia (where she played) and train probably, just because I grew up there, I chose to go there. This may have subconsciously been a dream job.

“…But sometimes your dream jobs are the ones you didn’t foresee. I didn’t know I could come to South Carolina and have the kind of career I had here. My path is divinely ordained and the order was to come to South Carolina and do great things and meet great people.”

South Carolina finished the 2021-22 season with a 35-2 record and the show’s second national title under Staley’s supervision. USC lost twice — a Dec. 30 loss in Missouri and the SEC’s tournament title game to Kentucky — by a combined three points.

Staley’s team later raced through the NCAA tournament with an average margin of victory of 23.3 points, including a dominant 15-point victory over UConn in the national championship game.

Staley mentioned his future as a coach several times during the Gamecocks’ most recent championship. Asked whether South Carolina could be in the conversation as a dynasty — noting that Auriemma and UConn both hold 11 titles — Staley said it’s too early to anoint USC with that distinction.

“I don’t think winning two national championships or going to the Final Four back-to-back is considered a dynasty in my day,” Staley said. “But just look at the UConn tradition and what they were able to do. They are the default. If it takes 11 national championships to be a dynasty, I probably won’t be able to do that because I’m not going to be in the game long enough for us to win 11.”

Staley is entering the second year of the historic seven-year contract she signed with South Carolina in October, which paid her $2.9 million in base salary and outside compensation this year. That number will increase in increments of $100,000 over the life of the deal, reaching $3.5 million in 2027-28.

The 2021-22 season also saw Staley earn over $650,000 in bonuses due to winning the national championship, among various other incentives written into his contract.

The Gamecocks return four of the team’s five starters from last season entering the 2022-23 campaign. They will be anchored by current National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston and fellow racers Zia Cooke, Brea Beal and Victaria Saxton.

Georgia Tech transfer Kierra Fletcher is expected to take over the point guard vacancy vacated by Destanni Henderson, while South Carolina will bring in five-star rookies Ashlyn Watkins and Talaysia Cooper.

South Carolina registration under Dawn Staley

2008-09 — 10-18, 2-12 SEC (No postseason)

2009-10 — 14-15, 7-9 SEC (No postseason)

2010-11 — 18-15, 8-8 SEC (Second Round WNIT)

2011-12 — 10-25, SEC 10-6 (Sweet Sixteen)

2012-13 — 25-8, 11-5 SEC (NCAA Round Two)

2013-14 — 29-5, 14-2 (Sweet Sixteen)

2014-15 — 34-3, 15-1 SEC (Final Four)

2015-16 — 33-2, 16-0 SEC (Sweet Sixteen)

2016-17 — 33-4, 14-2 (NCAA Champions)

2017-18 — 7-29, 4-12 (Elite Eight)

2018-19 – 10-23, 13-3 SEC (Sweet Sixteen)

2019-20 — 32-1, 16-0 (No postseason held due to COVID-19 pandemic)

2020-21 – 5-26, SEC 14-2 (Final Four)

2021-22 — 35-2, 15-1 (NCAA Champions)

Dawn Staley’s current contract, annual salary details

  • Year 1: $2.9 million (October 1, 2021 to April 15, 2022)
  • Year 2: $3 million (April 16, 2022 to April 15, 2023)
  • Year 3: $3.1 million (April 16, 2023 to April 15, 2024)
  • Year 4: $3.2 million (April 16, 2024 to April 15, 2025)
  • Year 5: $3.3 million (April 16, 2025 to April 15, 2026)
  • Year 6: $3.4 million (April 16, 2026 to April 15, 2027)
  • Year 7: $3.5 million (April 16, 2027 to April 15, 2028)

Ben Portnoy is the football hits writer for the South Carolina Gamecocks. He has been honored with the Associated Press Sports Editors Award five times and received recognition from the Mississippi Press Association and the National Sports Media Association. Portnoy previously covered Mississippi for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch and Indiana football for the Journal Gazette in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

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