Dawn Staley credited Megan Rapinoe and the US women's soccer team's equal pay fight for helping her get a historic payday
- Dawn Staley earned a 7-year, $22.4 million payday to keep coaching the South Carolina Gamecocks.
- The historic contract makes her one of the highest-paid coaches in women's college basketball.
Dawn Staley is officially one of the highest-paid women in the world of college sports.
The legendary player-turned-coach of the University of South Carolina women's basketball team signed a $22.4 million contract to lead the top-ranked Gamecocks program for seven more years. The historic payday makes Staley the highest-paid Black coach in women's college basketball - but she knows it's about far more than just herself.
"It's a huge day, obviously for me, but I think it goes to women's basketball," Staley said during an interview with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. "It's a great day for gender equity with our country, with our women's basketball."
"I hope that one day everybody sits where I'm sitting that has been discriminated against," she added. "It's our time in women's sports and women in general. It's our time. I think now this is going to become a popular right thing to do, and I hope it becomes the norm because it's the right thing to do."
Staley made sure to credit some of the hardest hitters in the equal pay fight - Megan Rapinoe and the US women's national soccer team - for all of their contributions to the pay equity conversation in recent years. She said she watched a recent HBO documentary about Rapinoe and her teammates' famous lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation in which they demanded commensurate compensation with the men's national team.
"There was a special on the women's soccer national team - 'LFG,'" Staley said. "I watched it, and they gave me the strength that I needed to keep pushing through with what they were going through."
"So Megan [Rapinoe] and crew, I appreciate you for your fight," she added.
Staley, the 2020 Coach of the Year, was on hand with her team as inequities between the women's and men's NCAA college basketball tournaments came to light last spring. She said that it's been encouraging to see the University of South Carolina lead the charge to level the playing field - at least at the coaching level.
"Being in the spotlight for the gender inequities during our Final Four, I think this is a step in the right direction," Staley said. "I think this is the university and the athletics department [working] to step up and be leaders in this area and hopefully it's a stepping stone to what the rest of the country can look like."
"You see a women's basketball coach make $22 million - people look at that," she added. "It's the number that pulls people in... I fought for it, no doubt about it, because I don't think we do anything different than any male coach around the country. And certainly our program has sustained success."
Check out Staley's full interview on GMA below:
-Good Morning America (@GMA) October 18, 2021
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