Catapulting South Carolina into the national spotlight when she was hired in May 2008, Dawn Staley has made the Gamecocks a mainstay in the battle for SEC and national championships. Under her leadership, the Gamecocks have reached many firsts – National Championships, NCAA Final Fours, No. 1 rankings, SEC regular-season and tournament titles, SEC Players of the Year, National Players of the Year, WNBA No. 1 Draft picks, an undefeated regular season, and No. 1 recruiting classes – to name the most notable.
In Staley’s 15 seasons at the helm of the Gamecocks, highlights include:
- Two National Championships (2017, 2022)
- Five NCAA Final Fours in the last eight tournaments (2015, 2017, 2021, 2022, 2023)
- Ranking in the AP Top 25 every week since Dec. 10, 2012, the third-longest active streak in the nation (206)
- 38 straight weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll, just the third program to go wire-to-wire in that poll in back-to-back seasons
- Six 30-win seasons, including a program-record 36 wins in 2022-23
- Seven SEC regular-season championships (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020, 2022, 2023)
- Seven SEC Tournament titles (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2023)
- Three top-two recruiting classes (#1 in 2021, #1 in 2019, #2 in 2014)
- Nine NCAA Attendance titles (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
While her coaching career is in full bloom, Staley is still recognized for her body of work as a one of the most decorated participants in United States women’s basketball history. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame solidified that legacy with her enshrinement as part of the Class of 2013. The Phoenix Club of Philadelphia established the Dawn Staley Award recognizing the nation’s top guard in women’s Division I basketball in 2013 as well. Staley was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012 and was one of the final nominees for induction to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame the same year.
In 23 seasons as a head coach, Staley has led her college teams to 13 25-win seasons, a total of 19 postseason appearances (two WNIT) and 197 weeks in the Associated Press top 10, including 63 in the No. 1 spot – the fourth most times in the top spot in the history of that poll. Her .755 winning percentage (574-186) ranks 10th in the nation among active head coaches with at least 10 years of experience and 13th all-time.
Also a force in USA Basketball, Staley was named the U.S. Women’s National Team head coach for 2017-21, leading the U.S. to 2018 FIBA World Cup gold to earn USAB National Coach of the Year honors that year, adding gold medals at the 2019 and 2021 FIBA AmeriCups and stretching the U.S. Olympic gold medal streak to seven straight at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, for which she again earned Coach of the Year honors. Prior to that appointment, Staley led three other U.S. teams to gold medals – 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships, 2014 FIBA U18 Americas Championship, 2007 Pan Am Games – and served as an assistant on the Senior National Team 2006-08 and again 2014-16, during which the U.S. claimed gold in the 2014 FIBA World Championship and the 2008 and 2016 Olympics.
At the helm of the Gamecocks over the last 15 seasons, Staley has been named National Coach of the Year four times (2014, 2020, 2022, 2023) with her 2020 unanimous selection making her the first former Naismith Player of the Year to earn the Naismith Coach of the Year award. She is a six-time SEC Coach of the Year and was the 2012 BCA Female Coach of the Year. She is the only Gamecock basketball coach – men’s or women’s – to amass 300 victories at South Carolina and became the fastest coach to 200 wins in program history, needing just 277 games at South Carolina to reach the plateau. She is the program’s all-time winningest coach (402) with a program-record 12 postseason appearances and is the only black head coach in men’s or women’s basketball to win multiple national championships.
In the vaunted SEC, Staley’s 183 league wins are the most among active league coaches and third all-time, trailing just Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees Andy Landers (Georgia, 273) and Pat Summitt (Tennessee, 306). Her .769 SEC winning percentage (183-55) is second only to Summitt (.874) in league history. Her Gamecocks are the only SEC program with multiple 16-0 seasons in league history, hitting that mark in 2015-16, 2019-20 and 2022-23.
In addition to coaching two National Players of the Year and a National Freshman of the Year, Staley has helped 10 Gamecocks collect 25 All-America selections, three to pick up seven SEC Player of the Year honors, three to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Year recognition a total of seven times, two to SEC 6th Player of the Year honors and six to capture SEC Freshman of the Year. She has coached 18 Gamecocks to All-SEC honors a combined 37 times, including 20 first-team selections. In the last nine seasons, 14 Gamecocks have been selected in the WNBA Draft, including 10 first-round picks, highlighted by two No. 1 overall picks in the last six years. Three Gamecocks have been named WNBA Rookie of the Year and one is a two-time WNBA MVP and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Prior to taking the helm of the Gamecocks on May 10, 2008, Staley made her coaching debut at Temple, helping the Owls reach the postseason seven times in her eight seasons on the bench, including six NCAA Tournament appearances. Temple posted 20 or more wins in a season six times, collected the first A-10 Tournament title in school history in Staley’s second season (2002) and captured the program’s first national ranking. The Owls became just the second team in A-10 history to collect three straight conference tournament titles, winning the event in 2004, 2005 and 2006, as well.
With a 172-80 record, Staley left Temple as the winningest coach in its women’s basketball history and was the fastest to reach 100 victories. En route to that .683 winning percentage, Staley earned WBCA Region 1 Coach of the Year honors in 2005, was twice named A-10 Coach of the Year (2004, 2005), and guided the team to a share of the regular-season A-10 title in 2007-08. She built that success on a foundation of discipline and caring.
“A lot of people think that X’s and O’s are the biggest part of coaching, but it’s actually very little,” Staley said. “It’s about relationships and discipline. I truly believe that the disciplined person can do anything, so I try to set up a platform on which student-athletes can be disciplined. With that, I want to build a family atmosphere that includes both the staff and the student-athletes. Once those things are in place, the basketball part becomes very easy because everyone wants to win for each other. We want to work for one another; we want to prepare people to be successful.”
Staley has carried that coaching philosophy to USA Basketball, where her presence on the coaching staff has become as ubiquitous as it was on the court for nearly a decade beginning in 1994. In an international coaching tenure that began in 2006, Staley has thrived both in the head chair and as an assistant, helping the U.S. amass seven gold medals. After two terms as an assistant coach with the Senior National Team, first joining that group in 2006, and three head coaching assignment in the organization, Staley was named head coach of the Senior National Team for 2017-21.
Her first coaching role on a national team level was as an assistant with the 2006 World Championship team, and, following that team’s success, she was asked to stay with the team through the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The U.S. won its fourth-straight Olympic gold medal — all with Staley involved in some capacity — that year. In between those two events, she helped the U.S. to a gold medal at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship in Chile. While she worked with the Senior National Team, Staley also took on a head coaching role for the 2007 USA Pan American Games Team, leading the college players to a perfect 5-0 record and a gold medal against more veteran international squads.
After stepping away from USA Basketball during the next Olympic cycle, Staley returned to the fold in 2014, again taking on dual roles within the organization. She kicked off the stretch with her second head coaching gold medal, leading the U.S. to gold in the FIBA U18 Americas Championship and closed the year as an assistant on the 2014 FIBA World Championship gold-medal team. In 2015, she added to her coaching gold-medal count with a U.S. victory in the FIBA U19 World Championships, which earned her USA Basketball Co-National Coach of the Year honors and made her the first person to earn both Coach and Athlete of the Year selections from the organization. In 2016, Staley picked up another gold medal as she was an assistant on the Rio Olympic team that captured its sixth-straight Olympic gold medal. As the first black head coach of the Women’s Senior National Team, she led the U.S. to the 2018 FIBA World Cup and the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup. Staley will continue to lead the American side at least through the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
As a player, Staley’s success came early in her career, beginning with being named USA Today’s National High School Player of the year in 1988 as a senior at Dobbins Tech. She went on to a four-year career at the University of Virginia that featured three trips to the NCAA Final Four, including a championship game appearance in 1991 after which she was named Most Outstanding Player. A two-time National Player of the Year (1991, 1992) and three-time Kodak All-American (1990, 1991, 1992), Staley was the ACC Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992 and the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1989. Finishing her career as the only player in ACC history – male or female – to record more than 2,000 points, 700 rebounds, 700 assists and 400 steals, Staley is one of three players at Virginia to have her jersey retired. She was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Women’s Basketball Team in 2002 and earned a spot on ESPN.com’s “Top Players of the Past 25 Years.” In April 2008, she was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
On the international scene, Staley made her first appearance in a USA Basketball uniform as a member of the 1989 Junior World Championship Team and 15 years later played her final international game after helping the organization to a 196-10 record. Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 highlight her collection of 10 gold medals and one bronze on the world stage.
Staley was also on two FIBA World Championship gold-medal teams (1998, 2002). Twice named USA Basketball’s Female Athlete of the Year (1994, 2004), Staley counts carrying the U.S. flag in front of the United States delegation in the 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony among her most gratifying moments on the international stage.
Following the 1996 Olympic Games, Staley joined the Richmond Rage of the ABL, one of two women’s basketball professional leagues started in the wake of USA Basketball’s success on the world stage. After two all-star seasons with the organization, she switched leagues, signing with the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting in 1999. Including the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Houston Comets, Staley played in the WNBA All-Star game five times and was the first player in league history to represent both the East and West teams during her career. A member of the WNBA’s All-Decade Team, as selected by a panel of national and WNBA-market media as well as the league’s players and coaches, Staley twice earned the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award (1999, 2006) and won the WNBA Entrepreneurial Spirit Award in 1999. Following her retirement from the league, the WNBA began awarding the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in 2007, honoring the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community in which she works or lives.
Staley lives that mantra daily not only through individual appearances and in encouraging her teams to pursue community services opportunities, but also through co-founding INNERSOLE. Since her arrival at South Carolina, she has continually invested time with various projects in Columbia, but found that she craved one hallmark initiative that could provide sustained assistance and create lasting change in one of her favorite constituencies – children. In July 2013, Staley found that in the creation of INNERSOLE, which aims to provide new sneakers to children who are homeless and children who are in need. Remembering the feeling of confidence and pride she felt as a child whenever she wore new sneakers, Staley initially launched the organization via social media, and her broad network of friends, fans and colleagues immediately leapt into action. Shoes poured in from all around the country, and a movement was born.
Local and national organizations have recognized Staley’s commitment to giving back, most recently with the 2020 Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service. The Columbia Chamber naming her its 2017 Ambassador of the Year, and, in 2013, then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley tabbed Staley to receive the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor from the governor bestowed on those who have displayed significant achievement and service to the state. Staley has twice been presented the Wanamaker 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 and joins Joe Frazier and Steve Carlton as the only individuals to capture the honor twice. In 2007, the Rotary Club of Tulsa named Staley its female recipient of the Henry P. Iba Citizenship Award, which is presented annually to the male and female athlete who has excelled in both their sport and their service to others.
Staley was honored by the University of Virginia Women’s Center in 2006 with the Center’s Distinguished Alumna Award, which honors a female graduate of the University who has demonstrated excellence, leadership and extraordinary commitment to her field and who has used her talents as a positive force for change. The University further recognized Staley’s standing in the community when it asked her to give the valedictory address at the 2009 Valedictory Exercises.
Following the South Carolina’s 2017 National Championship, both of Staley’s hometowns renamed streets in her honor with Columbia Mayor Steven K. Benjamin renaming Lincoln Street from College Street to Blossom Street Dawn Staley Way, which leads directly to the Gamecocks’ homecourt, Colonial Life Arena, in April 2017. In December 2017, the City of Philadelphia named the two-block stretch of Diamond Street from 23rd to 25th Street, which was the path from Staley’s house in the Raymond Rosen Projects to the Moylan (now Hank Gathers) Recreational Center where she began her basketball career, Dawn Staley Lane.
The Staley Capsule
574-186 (.755) – 23 seasons
South Carolina, head coach, 2008-present
- 402-106 (.791) – 15 seasons
- 1011NCAA Tournament appearances, 2012 (Sweet 16), 2013, 2014 (Sweet 16), 2015 (Final Four), 2016 (Sweet 16), 2017 (Champion), 2018 (Elite 8), 2019 (Sweet 16), 2021 (Final Four), 2022 (Champion), 2023 (Final Four)
- One Women’s NIT appearance, 2011
- Seven SEC Regular-Season Championships, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020, 2022, 2023
- Seven SEC Tournament Championships, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2023
- Six 30-Win Seasons, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2019-20, 2021-22, 2022-23
- Two No. 1 recruiting classes, 2019, 2021
- Three-Time National Coach of the Year 2020 unanimous; 2022 WBCA, Naismith, USBWA; 2023 WBCA, Naismith, USBWA
- Basketball Times National Coach of the Year, 2014
- Four-time WBCA Region 3 Coach of the Year, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020
- Six-time SEC Coach of the Year, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020, 2022, 2023
- BCA Female Coach of the Year, 2012
Temple University, head coach, 2000-08
- 172-80 (.683) – eight seasons
- Six seasons of 20 or more wins
- Four Atlantic 10 Tournament titles, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006
- Six NCAA Tournament appearances, 2002,2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
- One Women’s NIT appearance, 2001
- WBCA Region 1 Coach of the Year, 2005
- Two-time Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year, 2004, 2005
USA Basketball, Senior National Team head coach, 2017-present
- Two-Time National Coach of the Year 2018, 2021 (co-)
- FIBA World Cup, gold medal, 2018
- FIBA AmeriCup, gold medal, 2019
- FIBA AmeriCup, gold medal, 2021
- Tokyo Olympics, gold medal, 2020
USA Basketball, U19 National Team head coach, 2015
- FIBA U19 World Cup gold medal, 2015
- USA Basketball Co-National Coach of the Year, 2015
USA Basketball, U18 Nat’l. Team head coach, 2014
- FIBA U18 Americas Cup gold medal, 2014
USA Basketball, Pan Am Games head coach, 2007
- Pan American Games gold medal, 2007
USA Basketball, Select Team court coach, Summer 2010
USA Basketball, Sr. Nat’l. Team asst. coach, 2006-08, 2014-present
- Rio Olympics gold medal, 2016
- FIBA World Championship gold medal, 2014
- Beijing Olympics gold medal, 2008
- FIBA Americas Cup gold medal, 2007
- FIBA World Cup bronze medal, 2006
Houston Comets, WNBA, 2005-06
- Two-time All Star, 2005, 2006
- WNBA Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, 2006
Charlotte Sting, WNBA, 1999-2005
- Three-time All-Star, 2001, 2002, 2003
- WNBA All-Decade Team
- WNBA Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, 1999
- WNBA Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, 1999
Richmond/Philadelphia Rage, ABL, 1997-98
- Two-time All-Star, 1997, 1998
Various international teams, 1992-94
USA Basketball, 1994-2004
- Three-time Olympic gold medalist, 1996, 2000, 2004
- Two-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, 1994, 2004
- Flag bearer for the United States in Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, 2004
- Goodwill Games Most Valuable Player, 1994
University of Virginia, 1989-92
- Two-time Naismith Trophy winner, 1991, 1992
- Honda-Broderick Cup Award for Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year, 1991
- Sports Illustrated Player of the Year, 1991
- Three-time Kodak All-American, 1990, 1991, 1992
- Two-time ACC Player of the Year, 1991, 1992
- NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, 1991
- ACC Rookie of the Year, 1989
Dobbins Tech, 1985-88
- USA Today National High School Player of the Year, 1988
- Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Class of 2013
- Order of the Palmetto Recipient, 2013 (highest civilian honor from South Carolina governor granted to those who have displayed significant achievement and service to the state)
- Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Class of 2012
- Named to WNBA’s Top 15 as one of most influential players in league history, 2011
- Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2011
- Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2008
- Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service, 2020
- Two-time Wanamaker Award winner, 1997, 2005
- Henry P. Iba Citizenship Award Female recipient, 2007
- NCAA Division I “Top Players of the Past 25 Years” selection by ESPN.com
- Institute for International Sport “The 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” selection
- One of four UVa players to have her jersey retired
- Bachelor of arts in rhetoric and communication studies, University of Virginia, 1992
|Year||School||Record||Conf. Rec.||Conf. Finish||Postseason|
|2001-02||Temple||20-11||12-4||2nd East||A-10 Tourn. Champ./NCAA 1st Round|
|2003-04||Temple||21-10||14-2||1st East||A-10 Tourn. Champ./NCAA 1st Round|
|2004-05||Temple||28-4||16-0||1st East*||A-10 Tourn. Champ./NCAA 2nd Round|
|2005-06||Temple||24-8||12-4||3rd||A-10 Tourn. Champ./NCAA 1st Round|
|2006-07||Temple||25-8||13-1||2nd||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2007-08||Temple||21-13||12-2||T-1st||NCAA 1st Round|
|2010-11||South Carolina||18-15||8-8||T-5th||WNIT 2nd Round|
|2011-12||South Carolina||25-10||10-6||T-4th||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2012-13||South Carolina||25-8||11-5||T-4th||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2013-14||South Carolina||29-5||14-2||1st||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2014-15||South Carolina||34-3||15-1||T-1st||SEC Tourn. Champ./NCAA Final Four|
|2015-16||South Carolina||33-2||16-0||1st||SEC Tourn. Champ./NCAA Sweet 16|
|2016-17||South Carolina||33-4||14-2||1st||SEC Tourn. Champ./NCAA Champion|
|2017-18||South Carolina||29-7||12-4||T-2nd||SEC Tourn. Champ./NCAA Elite 8|
|2018-19||South Carolina||23-10||13-3||2nd||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2019-20||South Carolina||32-1||16-0||1st||SEC Tourn. Champ/(NCAA Tourn. cancelled)|
|2020-21||South Carolina||26-5||14-2||2nd||SEC Tourn. Champ/NCAA Final Four|
|2020-21||South Carolina||26-5||14-2||2nd||SEC Tourn. Champ/NCAA Final Four|
|2021-22||South Carolina||35-2||15-1||1st||NCAA Champion|
|2022-23||South Carolina||36-1||16-0||1st||SEC Tourn. Champ/NCAA Final Four|
|At SC||15 seasons||402-106||183-55|