Coming off historic runs through the NCAA Tournament, the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees has approved new contracts for head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin and head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, it was announced today.
Martin, who guided the Gamecocks to their first Final Four in program history, had one year added to his deal, extending his contract through the 2022-23 campaign, while Staley, who led the Gamecocks to their first National Championship in women’s basketball, received a four-year extension through the 2024-25 season.
“Not only did Frank Martin and Dawn Staley lead their teams to record-setting seasons, but through their leadership, teaching and development of student-athletes, they have established highly successful all-around college basketball programs,” said Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “I believe that through the core principle of growing the student-athlete experience, Frank and Dawn are set for continued success in their programs for years to come.”
Martin’s team has steadily improved in each of the five years under his direction, advancing to the first Final Four in school history in 2017, while posting a school record 26 wins along the way. Following the record-setting campaign, Martin earned Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year honors. South Carolina tallied 25 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history and the Gamecocks posted double-digit league wins in consecutive seasons (11 in 2016, 12 in 2017) for just the second time in its 26 seasons in the SEC. Under his direction, several Gamecocks have earned postseason accolades, highlighted this season by Sindarius Thornwell’s nod as the SEC Player of the Year and First-Team All-America honors by CBSSports.com. South Carolina advanced to its first NCAA Tournament since 2004 this March, and posted its first Tournament win since 1973 in a 93-73 victory over Marquette. The Gamecocks went on to defeat three of the top four seeds in the East Region - No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Baylor and No. 4 Florida - en route to the school's first Final Four.
“Since Frank has been at South Carolina, he has continued building a program that has seen increased success each season,” noted Tanner. “I believe his team’s Final Four run is representative of the foundation that he has used to build our program. Frank’s caring for his student-athletes is something that I think will help sustain his successes here for a long time.”
“I can't express how grateful I am to know the trust and belief that Dr. Pastides, Ray Tanner and the Board of Trustees have in me, our staff and our program,” said Martin. “My wife, Anya, our children and myself are ecstatic to continue to call Columbia our home. Continuing to build our program and help grow basketball in our state are two things that I'm excited about every day.”
In her nine seasons at the helm, Staley has built South Carolina into a perennial figure on the national stage, culminating in the 2017 National Championship. The Gamecocks are one of only three teams in the nation to appear in every AP top 10 since the start of the 2014-15 season, spending 12 weeks of that time at No. 1 – the first such ranking in program history. South Carolina has played in five of the last six NCAA Sweet 16s, including two Final Four seasons, and has won 90.1 percent of its games (128-14) over the last four seasons. In the always challenging SEC, Staley has led the Gamecocks to four straight SEC regular-season and three straight SEC Tournament titles, becoming just the second program in league history to post either such streak. While at South Carolina, Staley has produced five WNBA draft picks, including four first-round selections, four SEC Player of the Year honorees, eight All-America selections and three SEC Freshman of the Year winners.
“This contract renewal is demonstrative of Dawn’s role in building our women’s basketball program as one of the best in the nation, one that is built for sustained success,” said Tanner. “Dawn’s leadership role in athletics, as a National Championship coach and the USA Basketball coach, continues to bring a welcomed spotlight to our University. I look forward to having Dawn serve as our women’s basketball head coach for years to come.”
“I want to thank President Pastides, Ray Tanner and the Board of Trustees for their continued support of our coaches, our support staff and, most of all, our players,” said Staley. “When I first came to Columbia, it was with one goal in mind – to build a program that everyone involved could be proud of, both on and off the court. If measured by our record in the gym and the quality of character displayed by the young women who have worn the Gamecock jersey these last nine years, I believe we’ve done that. And it wouldn’t have happened without the commitment from the leadership of this great university, our incredible coaching staff and the support of our amazing fans. I’m proud of what we’ve built, proud of the women I’ve coached, proud to be part of the University of South Carolina – and proud that I will be for many years to come," added Staley.
With the Gamecocks enjoying one of their most successful athletic seasons across the board, the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees today extended the contract of Athletics Director Ray Tanner for three years, taking him through the end of the 2021-22 academic year. Under Tanner’s leadership, South Carolina’s holistic formula of athletic, academic and personal development of its student-athletes has proven that success on the field, in the classroom and in the community, go hand-in-hand.
Tanner, who has served as South Carolina’s Athletics Director for the past five seasons, currently has the Gamecocks ranked 14th in the NACDA Learfield Directors’ Cup Division I standings, their highest mark ever after the Winter sports season. Buoyed by its first National Championship in women’s basketball and a Final Four run in men’s basketball, 13 Gamecock teams are currently ranked or finished the season in the nation’s top-25 in their respective sports.
The Gamecocks’ success has not been limited to the athletic venues, but has reached into the classroom as well. A total of 90 South Carolina student-athletes made the 2016 Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll, placing second among SEC schools. Carolina student-athletes posted a combined 3.245 GPA for the Fall 2016 semester, marking the 20th-consecutive semester of more than a 3.0 GPA. A total of 33 student-athletes earned their degrees following the 2016 fall semester and another 86 are slated to graduate in May.
A dedicated community leader in his own right, Tanner places an emphasis on giving back to the community. Under his direction, Carolina student-athletes performed more than 9,000 hours of community service in the 2016-17 academic year.
With Tanner at the helm, the Gamecocks continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in attendance. South Carolina was one of only five schools in the country to be ranked in the top-25 in the nation in attendance for football and men’s and women’s basketball. It is the only school to average more than 10,000 in attendance per game for both basketball programs, and is one of only two schools in the nation to be ranked in the top-10 in attendance for both men’s and women’s soccer.
In September 2014, Tanner spearheaded the development of “The Gamecock Student-Athlete Promise: A Championship Experience,” a document that showcases the depth and breadth of the commitments the South Carolina Athletics Department has made to its student-athletes.
As part of the document, USC became the first school in the SEC to guarantee four-year scholarships for all qualifying sports. It also offers former student-athletes the opportunity to return back to campus to complete their undergraduate degree as part of the “Gamecock Degree Completion Program.” To date, over 30 former student-athletes have earned their degrees under this program.
As part of giving Gamecock student-athletes a “championship experience,” Tanner’s commitment to developing the finest facilities in the nation continues.
Since taking on the athletics director role, Tanner has overseen construction and facility renovation projects for virtually every sport, including Springs-Brooks Plaza and the Bignon Game Day Center at Williams-Brice Stadium, Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility, Football Operations Center, USC Soccer Complex, Sheila and Morris Cregger Outdoor Track, Wheeler Beach Volleyball facility, Carolina Coliseum, golf practice facility and locker rooms in Carolina Natatorium and Colonial Life Arena.