Dawn Staley Went Woke Again

Only this time her agenda is undermining the integrity of the sport she has helped define …

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There’s no denying University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley is the best in the country at what she does. In addition to winning eight Southeastern Conference (SEC) tournament championships and eight regular season conference titles, her Gamecocks have captured a pair of NCAA crowns (in 2017 and 2022). South Carolina was the runaway favorite to win another championship in 2020 – but Covid-19 canceled postseason play that year. Last season, Staley’s team was undefeated prior to losing to No. 3 Iowa in the Final Four in Dallas, Texas. This afternoon, they seek revenge against the Hawkeyes – and their third national title – in the NCAA championship game.

What Staley has accomplished is beyond remarkable – to say nothing of transformative for the Gamecock program.

After going a middling 67-58 (.536) during her first four years in Columbia, Staley’s teams have gone 372-48 (.886) since – including a 166-9 (.949) record over the past five seasons. South Carolina has not missed the NCAA tournament since the 2010-2011 season – a run of twelve straight appearances.

That is nothing short of dynastic, people.

Along the way, though, Staley’s incessant “wokeness” – which is sadly par for the course at the taxpayer-funded institution which employs her – has rubbed many fans (including this one) the wrong way.



It all started back in 2017 after South Carolina captured its first national crown and the head coach was asked whether she would accept the traditional invitation extended to championship programs to visit the White House.

“Yeah, I’m going to the White House,” Staley told The Associated Press. “It’s what it stands for.  It’s what national champions do.  We’ll go to the White House.”

Staley was praised for putting sports over politics … at least initially. Months later, though, the 53-year-old Philadelphia native flip-flopped – rebuffing an invitation from the administration of former president Donald Trump.

Things escalated when Staley received a seven-year, $22.4 million contract extension in 2021. Obviously she deserved every cent of the money, but in announcing the new deal she blasted both the university – and the taxpayers who provided all that money to her – for their “rich history of racism.”

That’s right …

Staley further had the audacity to refer to her $800,000-a-year pay raise (which brought her annual salary to $2.9 million) as “progressive” – a curious description coming from a multi-millionaire taxpayer-funded employee who works in one of the poorest states in America.


South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley paces the sidelines. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

Lately, the wokeness has gotten out of control. Two years ago, en route to her program’s second title, Staley’s players refused to take the court for the playing of the national anthem prior to their semi-final victory over Louisville. Staley insisted it was all about timing – that appearing for the anthem would have interfered with their pregame routine – but she previously stated her team was boycotting the national anthem to “bring awareness to racial injustice in our country.” 

Staley further stated her team would boycott the anthem “until we’re able to come to the table with tangible things that change the way that people are treated – people of color, black people, minorities.”

In the fall of 2022, Staley stepped in it again when she canceled (literally) South Carolina’s scheduled 2022 and 2023 games with Brigham Young University (BYU) after a Cougar fan allegedly “directed racial slurs at a black Duke volleyball player during a game.” Evidence of these alleged slurs never materialized, though, despite extensive investigation by local law enforcement and the university.

Staley refused to back down, saying her “personal research” led her to believe the slurs were real.

To be clear: I’ve always given Staley the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her political beliefs. I’ve even acknowledged she’s not wrong in saying racism in America exists and needs to be called out (no matter from whence it originates).




Sadly, the latest iteration of Staley’s woke crusade stabs at the very heart of the institution she has helped define – and which has helped define her – over the course of her life. Left unchecked, in fact, I believe it would destroy that institution. Asked this weekend whether biological males should be allowed to compete in NCAA women’s sports, Staley said … yes.

Wait … what?

“I’m of the opinion that if you’re a woman, you should play,” Staley said, according to The Associated Press. “If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports, or vice versa, you should be able to play.”

I’m sorry … come again?

As someone who has spent the better part of the last two decades defending individual liberty, I believe – like Staley – that people have a right to identify as whatever they want to.

“People should be free to make choices about who they want to be – even if those choices are in a constant state of flux,” I wrote back in the fall of 2018. “It is not up to us to judge – and it certainly isn’t up to government to judge.  In fact, government is bound by the Fourteenth Amendment to provide equal protection to all of its citizens.  That includes men, women and … well … whatever.”

Here’s the thing, though: Equal protection does not mean compulsory acceptance. Nor should liberty create an obligation – or expectation – of special treatment. You can identify as anything you want – Alexander the Great, Beavis, Count Chocula, Donald Duck – but as much as the “gender affirmers” want you to believe otherwise, wishing doesn’t make it so. Far from it. Oh, and you don’t get to turn around and play the victim when people call you crazy. If you think you are a duck … you probably are crazy.




Most importantly, this so-called “liberty” – which in most cases is culturally stimulated insanity – can never and must never infringe upon the greater liberty of others. In other words, its expression cannot create unfair and unlawful discrimination against others.

I made this incontrovertible dogma unambiguously clear two years ago in addressing the very issue Staley is now weighing in on so unfortunately …

“The hill I will die on every time is this absurd notion that inherent unfairness can somehow promote equality,” I wrote. “That aspirational inclusion can somehow justify actual exclusion. And that those who refuse to fall in line with this insane new orthodoxy are somehow morally inferior to those attempting to foist it upon us and our children.”

Because make no mistake: They are coming for your kids.

Indoctrination notwithstanding, it boils down thusly: If men are allowed to compete in women’s sports … what is the point of having women’s sports?

Of all people Staley ought to know that. Unless, of course, she thinks it would be fair for the Iowa men’s basketball team to replace the women (well, maybe not Caitlin Clark) in today’s championship game.

In the cover image chosen for this story, Staley is seen at a recent men’s basketball game wearing a WNBA sweater.

My question to the coach is simple: If we follow her newly expressed views on transgender athletes … what does the “W” stand for?

I’ll wait for an answer …

BANNER: Travis Bell Columbia SC Photographers



(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.



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Thomas O'Brien Top fan April 7, 2024 at 12:05 pm

She needs to GO!! I have never Supported her Due to Her Views! Let’s be Honest, Black Slavery was the Fault of the Leaders in Africa! They Still Practice Slavery To This DAY!! I would Like to be Oppressed to the Tune of 2.9 Million a Year!!

JustCallMeAva Top fan April 7, 2024 at 6:14 pm

Actually, it’s 4.1M a year, but do go on. And please tell me why we’d ever entertain the idea of letting go a three-time national champion who just capped off a PERFECT season?

Earl Johnson April 8, 2024 at 3:15 am

I don’t know, racism maybe… or maybe because white man who hate wokeness think he knows better and can do better for 2.9 million. He likes oppression. I like the fact that he used his real name. Coach Staley winning another next year.

Richard M Clark Top fan April 8, 2024 at 11:10 am

I hate that we have fans like you, just makes me sad.

Dum Spiro Spero Top fan April 7, 2024 at 12:13 pm

I find it interesting that a successful women’s basketball coach who stands up for her race, sex , God, university, and state, comes in for a column of criticism when in the same week a wannabe ex-President can call the terrorists he inspired to attack the nation’s Capitol “hostages” and “patriots”, hawk Holy Bibles for his own enrichment during Christian’s most holy of weeks, and compare himself in a court case of his own making to Nelson Mandela, a man who spent decades in prison for human rights, and we hear hardly a mention.

Nanker Phelge April 7, 2024 at 2:21 pm

“Because make no mistake: They are coming for your kids.”


Who is coming? The Woke? Migrants? Queers? Antifa? So much to fear!

Better stay ensconced in your safe space, Snowflake Willie.

Travis April 7, 2024 at 4:17 pm

This was an incredibly well written and accurate article. It’s a shame the woke mine virus is infecting so much of America right now.

America Fuentes April 7, 2024 at 4:53 pm

It’s so funny that all you offended crybaby white men use the word “woke” as if that hurts anyone’s feelings. What’s the opposite of the word “woke”??? ASLEEP! And THATS why you’re mad and in your feelings. You liked it much better when people were walking around unaware and oblivious to your history of behavior, theft, destruction of other cultures and control over society, and now that they are AWAKENING, you think using the word “woke” in a mocking tone will shame people into shutting up and going back to sleep. You better check your white fragility and get used to it!! Staley ain’t going NOWHERE.

Mike Will Made it April 7, 2024 at 5:23 pm

Very well said Fuentes, this is what I came to say. Only old racist whites speak of “ woke” like it’s a bad thing. Standing up to oppression and racism is BAD oh nooo. lol what a joke.. but yeah you want people to stay asleep huh ? Lame yall racists really hate representation, diversity, and equality huh hahahah SO SAD!

Debra Stevenson Top fan April 8, 2024 at 9:52 am

You are an idiot!

River Top fan April 10, 2024 at 8:17 am

I met a “woke” man last week. He had a flat tire and I had some time to spare. I did the Christ like thing to help my fellow man. So I taught this grown soft hand man how to change his tire and got him back on the road. He’s probably bashing white Christians somewhere in comments today but Jesus calls us to love the lost anyway.

Jj Michael April 7, 2024 at 5:33 pm

This is such a one-sided piece, how can you even call yourself the news. You’re basically an extension of FOX.

JustCallMeAva Top fan April 7, 2024 at 6:15 pm

Has anyone noticed how Will seems to be losing his grip on reality? Maybe he’s doing an audition for Fox News? Nah, they’d never let him on the air.

Stay Woke. Keep Your third eye open April 7, 2024 at 5:35 pm

Amazing how the term “stay woke” started in Black Community to signify keeping your eye out for racism in every day life that you have accepted and “slept on”. Now used by fragile white males to complain whenever POC, queer people , or any under represented group give an opinion that doesn’t fit with racist white male opinion. I expect next he will call 3 time NCAA champion, multiple Olympic gold medal winning coach Dawn Staley a DEI hire, because she is a successful woman of color

Go Woke, FITS Chokes April 7, 2024 at 6:13 pm

Another championship under her belt. It seems all the other non-woke coaches have a hell of a lot of catching up to do.

Anonymous April 7, 2024 at 6:50 pm

Find Christ

Can't Serve Two Masters April 8, 2024 at 8:39 am

Oh, they won’t ever find him while following Trump.

Rodney April 7, 2024 at 7:01 pm

Well I love Dawn Staley. She gave me a very special moment. Watching her win her 3rd National Chip was outstanding. And to go undefeated with a completely new starting line is magical. She is a Philadelphia treasury. We love her she makes us proud. Her accomplishments are infinite. However, a trans male partaking in a biological female sports is something that I cannot agree with. For a multitude of reasons. But simply put it makes zero sense. It’s definitely unfair to the female population and inconsistent bio creation. There is a reason the creator created man physically stronger then women and no sex change can erase that. The emphasis is on men be physically stronger period.

Terminator44 Top fan April 7, 2024 at 8:11 pm

Outstanding article, Will. Despite the ignorance of dummy, wanker, and Julio, Staley is a divisive person who hates this country. Hey dummy, I see that you failed to mention her standing up for the USA. The sheer idiocy of Staley, where she makes MILLIONS of dollars a year – and then has the audacity to bash the USA, speaks volumes. Go over to whatever country you think is greater than the USA, and see how much they pay you for disrespecting that country’s flag?

Yep, another natty for USuC in women’s b’ball. Face it Shamecock fans, you clowns are nothing but a women’s basketball school. How does it feel to CONTINUE to be Clemson’s b*tch in every man’s sport that counts? Football, basketball, AND baseball.

Denial Ain't Just a River April 8, 2024 at 8:55 am

I mean the Reading Rainbow dude Levar Burton is wealthy and well known but even he sweats when pulled over by a cop.

I don’t think you want to understand what it means to be a minority in America because your nonsense opinions will fold in a heartbeat, and then you’ll just be left with nothing but your ignorance on full display.

Mary April 8, 2024 at 5:49 pm

Donald Trump says he makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year (and that does not even include all the millions you guys give him for his legal fees) and he constantly bashes the USA. Promises more tax cuts to billionaires, I guess because they live in such a hell hole they deserve it. All he has to do is cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for it.

Troy April 8, 2024 at 2:00 am

This article is in poor taste.. Tue woman just won a championship for your state.. more than anything you’ve ever done..

She also provided you an opportunity to write an article.. that probably got your highest rating of you life.. be grateful..

It is actually ok for people to respond to centuries of oppression with what you call “ wokeness” As a South Carolina citizen.. sounds like you were rooting for Iowa.. now that’s Woke !!
Dawn Staley creates more value for USC than she gets in salary.. winning national championships puts the school on the map..
The admissions and tuition bump from winning alone could be 20 times her salary..
Be grateful.. and if you can’t.. try.

By the way this is one of the most “Reverse Woke” articles I have ever read..

WrongThink Bad! April 8, 2024 at 9:19 am

If you strip away all the “woke” terminology, Dawn is simply stating her opinion on a matter that is completely relevant to her job title.

The whining this generates would be hilarious if it weren’t sad.

Steely Top fan April 8, 2024 at 8:25 am

I wonder if her players would have a problem with biological males in their locker room?

The L-ephant in the Room April 8, 2024 at 9:28 am

If trans women are men, why do conservatives have to add a qualifier to the word “male” when talking about them?

You need to biological man up, biological dude. See? No one talks like that. Just you guys. lmao

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The Colonel Top fan April 8, 2024 at 9:45 am

The truly sad thing is that were Dawn’s position taken to fruition, 6-7 of her nine players would never make the team and the 2-3 that did would never see the court.

Beavis Count Chocula April 8, 2024 at 1:52 pm

They pay her literal million$ to teach other bulldykes how to bounce basketballs. The funny things is that by advocating for allowing biological males to compete with the freaks she trains and mentors, those freaks, who don’t look to have a shortage of male hormones coursing through their veins, will be losing to the freaks who were born with male parts. I find it all to be rather comical. What is Dawn’s strategy, here? Is she hoping to develope an attraction to the biological males who look more feminine than her current crop of players so she can claim she is straight? Does she want the biological males so the “females” she currently trains and mentors have role models of macho to aspire to. Stay tuned folks. This can only get weirder.

Richard M Clark Top fan April 8, 2024 at 10:29 pm

I can’t believe Will allows folks to make such comments on his forum. I have no issue with differing opinions, but when people take just blatant shots with no real knowledge of the issue it’s sad. There is not one trasgender player in d1 college ball today, and participation is governed by the sports governing body which has taken a fairly restrictive stance. So why is this an issue. Again there isn’t one trangender player in D1. I think the far right has grabbed this issue, and run. There is no line of transgendet players lining up to play d1 ball, and if they were the governing body for wbb dictates who can play, it’s not a job for state legislature. And to take shots at women playing basketball and call them names is just a sign of low intelligence.

Only Moderate Here Top fan April 8, 2024 at 3:55 pm

A good working definition of “wokeness” is: “the quality of being alert to and concerned about social injustice and discrimination.” Shouldn’t we all be “woke”? Otherwise, you’re rooting for social injustice and discrimination.

Dawn Staley has contributed much to women’s sports and the State of South Carolina. This old white guy is not threatened in the least by her or her message. Her “wokeness” should be embraced, not feared.

tbrewer1 Top fan April 9, 2024 at 10:26 am

Move to Africa and then you will be a majority instead of a minority. I’s as simple as that.

River Top fan April 9, 2024 at 9:04 pm

Luke 9:25


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