Nov. 15, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley will receive the Order of the Palmetto Saturday from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. The award is the highest civilian honor that can be awarded by the governor, granted to those who have displayed significant achievement and service to the state, and will be presented to Staley at halftime of the Gamecock football game against Florida.
“I am honored to award Dawn Staley the Order of the Palmetto and recognize her outstanding leadership at the University of South Carolina,” Haley said. “Her dedication to promoting success among young athletes will have a lasting impact, and we are deeply appreciative of all that she has done to make a positive difference in our great state.”
“I am grateful for Governor Haley’s generosity with this award and am humbled by joining the others who have received it,” Staley said. “Returning to South Carolina where my mother is from has been a blessing, and we have spent five-plus years doing our best to represent the state well. I am so happy to coach at this University and be able to share my experiences and provide opportunities for the young women here to play for and thrive at their own state university.”
Recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for her outstanding playing career, Staley has established herself as a passionate contributor to the community as well. After her retirement from the league, the WNBA created the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in recognition of her enduring spirit of giving back. Staley has twice received the Wannamaker Award (1997, 2005), presented annually to the athlete, team or organization that has done the most to reflect credit upon Philadelphia and to the team or sport in which he/she excels. She is the only individual woman to ever win the award. In 2007, the Rotary Club of Tulsa named Staley its female recipient of the Henry P. Iba Citizenship Award, which is presented each year to the male and female athlete who has excelled in both their sport and in their service to others.
On the court, Staley won three Olympic gold medals, twice earning USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year honors, and was a five-time all-star in her eight-year WNBA career. Inducted into the Naismith and the Women’s Basketball Halls of Fame, Staley was tabbed one of the WNBA’s Top 15 most influential players in the league and the league’s All-Decade team. She joined that league after spending her first two seasons in the ABL, earning all-star status both seasons. Staley first began accumulating awards in high school as the USA Today National High School Player of the Year, a trend that continued into her college years at University of Virginia. The three-time Kodak All-American was the Sports Illustrated Player of the Year and won the Honda-Broderick Cup Award for Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year.
As a coach, Staley has resurrected the South Carolina women’s basketball program, taking the Gamecocks to the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, both of which yielded 25 wins. Her leadership has led to South Carolina’s appearance in 22 of the last 32 Associated Press Top 25 Polls, including earning a preseason ranking for just the eighth time in school history this season. Through her first five seasons, Staley has led the Gamecocks to 38 of the program’s all-time 102 SEC victories, far surpassing the previous best five-year total of 29 (2000-04).
With Saturday’s recognition, Staley joins several other elite South Carolina coaches who have received the Order of the Palmetto, including current track and field head coach Curtis Frye, former men’s basketball coach Frank McGuire and former football coaches Lou Holtz, Jim Carlen and Warren Giese.
South Carolina women’s basketball continues its 2013-14 season with a 3 p.m. game on Sun., Nov. 17, against Seton Hall at Colonial Life Arena.