Staley leaving as Lady Owls head coach

May 7, 2008 10:08:33 PM PDT
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley will leave her hometown Temple to become head coach at South Carolina. Both schools said Wednesday that Staley will take over for Susan Walvius, who resigned after 11 seasons as her program struggled to stay competitive in the rugged Southeastern Conference.

Staley's biggest task will be finding players just like her to revive the fading Gamecocks. But she has never backed away from a difficult challenge. In her eight years coaching the Owls, Staley became the school's winningest coach with a record of 172-80. She led Temple to six NCAA tournament appearances and four Atlantic 10 Conference tournament crowns.

Staley, who turned 38 this past Sunday, was expected to be introduced on campus Saturday morning shortly after the university's board of trustees takes a vote to approve the hiring.

She will be the school's first black female head coach, and just the second black head coach overall after longtime track and field coach Curtis Frye.

The school did not release Staley's salary or contract length, although The (Columbia) State and The Philadelphia Inquirer reported her base pay will be $250,000 a year and her total pay will be about $650,000.

After last season, Staley had agreed to a six-year contract extension that was supposed to keep her at Temple through the 2012-13 season.

"Dawn Staley has had a strong record at Temple University," Temple AD Bill Bradshaw said in a statement. "We wish her the best at South Carolina."

Gamecocks athletic director Eric Hyman did not return messages left by The Associated Press. He was attending a conference out of state, athletic spokesman Steve Fink said.

Staley's final team at Temple recovered from a 7-10 start to win 14 of 16 games before losing to Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

South Carolina hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since 2003, when the Gamecocks won 23 games and went 9-5 in the SEC. In the five seasons since, South Carolina is 20-60 in regular-season SEC play. Staley's new roster only includes eight players after the Gamecocks lost freshmen Jasmine Payne and Ashlie Billinglea after their arrests on drug and theft charges.

Staley first gained national attention for her play at Philadelphia's Dobbins Tech High in the 1980s. She followed that with an all-America career at Virginia, helping the Cavaliers reach three Final Fours. Staley was Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year her junior and senior seasons.

Staley was a two-time all-star in the defunct ABL for the Richmond Rage. She was voted an All-Star five times after moving to the WNBA.

Staley also excelled in international play. She helped the U.S. team to gold medals in three straight Olympics - Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004.

She is part of the U.S. coaching staff for the Beijing Olympics this summer.