If Dawn Staley were a different hue, perhaps a different gender, what she and her 2019-10 South Carolina WBB squad accomplished might have been more widely noted. The Gamecocks finished as the nation’s top-ranked team (32-1, 16-0 SEC) and 26 straight wins. Staley, who won her fourth conference coach of the year and her first AP top coaching honor, also is the USA Olympics head women’s coach.
A recent The Undefeated article quoted Staley on her displeasure with the media for overlooking her program. Others in the piece suggested it is because she is Black.
Staley is among the nearly 16 percent of the Black WBB head coaches in the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC). “I think that she has had to be successful and 150 percent better to get the attention,” said Carolyn Peck, the first Black woman to win a women’s national championship; Staley is the second to do so.
Staley added, “When you see things happen that don’t happen at other programs, that makes you think, ‘Was that intentional?’ The only difference is that I’m Black.”
“Dawn is carrying the torch now for us African American coaches,” Old Dominion third-year Coach Nikki McCray-Penson said. Before her current position, McCray-Penson was an assistant coach on Staley’s staff. “[She is] doing it the right way and setting the standard.”
Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this story, it was announced that Dawn Staley was named Naismith Coach of the Year.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.