South Carolina coach Don Staley receives the Billie Jean King Leadership Award



NEW YORK (AP) — South Carolina coach Don Staley included, after winning another NCAA basketball title, enjoying the victory, sealing NIL team-wide deals and supporting color coaches.

South Carolina State head coach Don Staley reacts during the first half of a college basketball game in the final round of the Women’s National Basketball Association college basketball tournament, Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Last season, Staley began handing out portions of the first championship nets she won in 2017, and she plans to distribute the 2022 winning nets to black sports journalists.

On Wednesday night, you will receive more honors. Staley will accept the Billie Jean King Leadership Award at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s annual salute for women in sport.

She recently led the US women’s basketball team to its seventh consecutive gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Staley, a 5-foot-6 Virginia general and six-time WNBA All-Star, has won three Olympic gold medals during her football career.

The Philadelphia native turned around the faltering programs in Temple and South Carolina, the latter now boasting A little bit of the The highest attendance rate in the nation. She watched her former South Carolina star Aja Wilson win the WNBA title with the Las Vegas Ace and earn MVP honors. Last month.

Now among the highest paid coaches In women’s basketball52-year-old Staley is entering her 15th season at the helm.

The Naismith Hall of Famer spoke to the Associated Press about her role models, community support and her 5-year-old Havanese dog nicknamed “Champ.” Comments have been edited for brevity.

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AP: Why was it important to distribute portions of the NCAA title network to color coaches?

STALEY: I started with (99 NCAA Award winning Purdue coach) Carolyn Beck giving me a piece of the net a few years before the 2017 National Championships. Someone did it for her, and she wanted to push it forward. When we won in 2017, I wanted to keep that tradition alive. I knew what that tangible piece of the grid did for me – it gave me a constant reminder of what we were working towards, keeping me focused. We tried to get everyone, but we definitely got feedback from those we missed and sent them off for pieces too.

AP: What motivates you to identify black sports journalists with a piece of the net?

Don Staley, head coach of South Carolina, cuts the net after a collegiate basketball game in the final round of the NCAA Women’s Final against UConn Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Minneapolis. On the night of Wednesday, October 12, 2022, Staley accepted the Billie Jean King Leadership Award at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s annual salute to women in sport (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

STALEY: It’s the same motivation for the Black coaches. I know what it’s like to move in a space that isn’t always built for you or understand your specific path or struggle. So, I want these very important journalists to give voice to the athletes and the programs they cover to have a tangible reminder that whatever goal they’re working toward can be achieved if they stay focused on it.

AP: I’ve advocated for more color coaches. How do you assess the current situation?

STALEY: It has become common practice to hire a black coach. But it’s a cycle – it’s in a place it might have been 10 years ago. The numbers go as high but not nearly as they should be with a lot of black student-athletes. I don’t condemn anyone else, but if there’s a certain number of black student athletes you’re coaching, I think they need to see someone who represents them.

Associated Press: Coaches for women’s sports were the norm in the 1970s, about 90%, before the NCAA took over running women’s sports in the 1980s. Now it is only about 41%. Who can make a difference in hiring?

STALEY: Absolutely. Let me just say no fault of any mention because you are hiring someone you know. The more people you know and the more diverse the people you know, the more you will be able to tell enough to hire someone.

AP: What makes South Carolina’s women’s basketball program so strong?

STALEY: Longevity. I’ve had two ads and three bosses and senior staff pretty much the same for the past few years. It helps when you have continuity within your athletic department, people know who you are and what you stand for and it helps move the chain a little bit.

AP: Studies show that diversity makes universities and companies stronger, offering a variety of voices and talent. Have you tried this in your career – a slow progression towards a more diverse table?

Staley: No, I mean, that’s what it is. It won’t change until we get conscious. But we haven’t gotten there yet. When one or two people on senior staff are diverse, and you know there are eight other people less diverse in senior staff, you’re 20% of the room. You just give an opinion. Nothing will change.

AP: Along with the individual contracts for Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), there are team-wide deals in South Carolina, so all the players are getting bucks for nothing?

STALEY: We’ve had some good success partnering with people who feel the deals between all the teams are great. We just signed a deal that gives all of our players at least $25,000. We’ve partnered with a company called Rewind that gave our players the rights to the property. It’s a diabetes startup because diabetes is so prevalent in South Carolina. Our players will raise awareness of type 2 diabetes, so there will be generational health in our community.

AP: How’s the hero? Are you still stealing the show?

STALEY: It’s his fifth birthday. The hero is the giver. Therefore, we will likely partner with a pet orphanage here in Colombia. Bring awareness to it. Go adopt a pet.


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