Dawn Staley is now the highest-paid Black coach in women's basketball after the university's board of trustees approved a seven-year, $22.4 million contract extension on Friday.
Staley joins the University of Connecticut's head coach Geno Auriemma as the highest-paid coaches in women's basketball.
With some private colleges not disclosing their contracts, it's hard to say whether or not Staley is the highest paid coach in the country, though. Interim President Harris Pastides said he hopes the extension puts Staley at the top.
"I hope she is number one," Pastides said. "She taught us how to break the glass ceiling in women's basketball and for women's coaches, that's what she's doing today. And she broke right through that glass ceiling and she's cutting down the net."
Athletics Director Ray Tanner spoke to the media alongside Pastides and Staley Friday evening and likened Staley's success at South Carolina to the quote, "build it, and he will come" from the movie "Field of Dreams."
"I think it's fair to say that coach Staley built it, they came, and they came back, and they're still coming and the recruits are coming," Tanner said. "What she's done in her 13 seasons has been absolutely remarkable — a winning program and more to come. Sustaining success is one of the hardest things to do in sport and she's already exemplified that."
Staley said she isn't fond of having the spotlight shining on her, but that today was a big day for the game of women's basketball and for gender equity across the nation.
"For a long time, South Carolina has not always been on the popular end of history, but I stand here before you to say that this is a transformational decision that we've made," Staley said. "I'm super proud to represent this place, this state and I hope that we can continue to do this, not just for women's basketball but with all women's sports, with all women's professors, with all women's administrators."
Pastides agreed that Staley's new contract sets a precedent for gender equity in coaching contracts in women's sports for the future.
"She is in every way a class act, and she's a groundbreaker, and today she breaks through that glass ceiling of gender equity in coaches' salaries right here at the University of South Carolina," Pastides said.
Staley said she was thankful that the university's leadership is leading the way when it comes to awarding female coaches.
"We have a male president, a male AD, the board is probably 90% male, those are the people who made this decision. I'm so thankful, because it doesn't happen very often, but I'm super happy it happened right here at the University of South Carolina and we can, again, be leaders in gender equity," Staley said.
The contract sets Staley up to be the head women's basketball coach through at least the 2027-2028 season, barring any unforeseen circumstances. As for what may come after, Staley said she hopes that Columbia is the last place she'll ever coach.
"This is a place I've called home and I'm comfortable with being here," Staley said. "I do believe this contract extension keeps me here, it's fair to say, for a very long time. I don't know when my career will end, but certainly I want this to be my last stop."