Pete Iacobelli/Associated Press
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has gone through a consequential year of success, both on and off the basketball court. Along the way, Staley has become the voice of leadership and direction in the women's game. She jokes often that she never planned to get into coaching before accepting the job at Temple even though she has always had in her. Staley's role as an elite point guard was to serve as the coach on the floor. She won her second NCAA Tournament crown — the first Black coach to accomplish the feat — with a 64-49 victory over UConn. Her success has given Staley the platform to champion issues off the court. She continues to speak out about gender equity, diversity and opportunities for women.
South Carolina State women's coach Audra Smith was fired a day after filing suit against the school alleging Title IX violations and discriminatory practices at the university. Smith was in her fourth season at the school. Her suit was filed Wednesday in federal court. She said in the complaint the school continually provided fewer resources to women's teams, athletes and coaches than received by men's teams. Smith's suit asked for undisclosed damages. On Thursday, South Carolina State ended Smith's contract. Smith was 24-73 in four seasons in charge of the program.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has received a seven-year contract worth $22.4 million. She will get a salary increase of $800,000 this season, earning a total of $2.9 million. Her salary will increase each year of the deal until it tops out at $3.5 million in 2027-28. The school said in a statement it makes Staley the highest paid Black coach in women's basketball. The new deal was approved by the school's board of trustees on Friday. Staley's salary is tops in the Southeastern Conference, surpassing the $2.5 million newly hired Kim Mulkey will get with LSU this season.