How South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley got equal pay

COLUMBIA – South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley was tired of earning less money than her male counterpart despite performing better on the pitch.

The 2021 National Coach of the Year has signed a historic contract of 22.4 million dollars last season it made her the highest-paid women’s basketball coach in the SEC, but she had to fight for the deal she thought she deserved.

“I said I was going to risk it all. I’m going to ask for equal pay,” Staley said on the Jemele Hill is a carefree podcast. “Our success hasn’t been the same. (Men’s basketball coach) went to the Final Four once. I was like, there’s something seriously wrong here.”

Staley was inspired to push for pay equity after disparities between men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments revealed itself through social media in 2021.

She said she compared salaries between herself and former men’s basketball coach Frank Martin and noticed that Martin earned more than her. annually in increases.

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“I was the first coach to write a letter (to the NCAA),” Staley said. “Then I came home after the tournament and I was like, ‘I’m here nationally asking for equality for women’s basketball, and I’m coming back to South Carolina and I don’t even understand that here.’ “

According to Equity in Athletics Data Analysis Report 2020-21 — which includes data from before Staley signed her contract — South Carolina male coaches earned an average of $674,279 a year, while female coaches earned an average of $325,706. The disparity was even greater for assistant coaches: male assistants earned an average of $231,393 and female assistants earned just $85,437.

Under his new contract, Staley earned $2.9 million in 2021-22. This will increase by $100,000 each year to reach $3.5 million by the end of the seven-year agreement. When Martin was fired by South Carolina after the 2021 season, he earned $3.2 million a year. New coach Lamont Paris has signed a five-year contract which will pay $2.2 million in its first season.

To handle the negotiations, Staley brought in South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers, who also handled her. 2018 libel lawsuit against former Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk. This case was settled for $50,000.

“I asked my agent to step aside, I said because I don’t really think you can really do what I’m going to ask,” Staley said. “I hired (Bowers) … and he was all for it. He was like, ‘You’re the best coach in the country, but you’re definitely the best coach here in South Carolina, so I believe it.’ You have to find one who really understands how who makes these decisions.”

For Staley, the $22.4 million contract had nothing to do with the money — she was still earning a base salary of $1 million on her previous contract. She wanted the deal to be a statement of investment in women’s sport.

“People will say, well, you’re a non-revenue-generating sport. No, we’re not,” Staley said. “We have the highest attendance in the country. We have national attendance records for the last nine consecutive years. Somebody pays for those tickets…it’s revenue-generating. We win national championships, so you get a free marketing campaign.”

Contact Emily Adams at or on Twitter @eaadams6.

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