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Dawn Staley declined to pursue Washington Wizards head coaching job

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(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

There isn’t much that would take Dawn Staley away from South Carolina – including the NBA.

Speaking with Vanity Fair earlier this month, she revealed that she opted not to pursue the Washington Wizards’ coaching vacancy shortly after being approached by Portland – despite the team reaching out. To Staley, it’s important that the team not treat the hire “like a publicity stunt.”

“I didn’t because nowadays there are people out there that are trying to strengthen their candidate pool and, you know, they gotta diversify the people that they’re speaking to,” Staley told Vanity Fair. “I don’t want to be a number. I don’t want to be a statistic. I don’t want to be a ‘check the box.’ Portland was pretty serious about it, and then everybody else—I don’t think it was that serious.”

Instead, Staley opted to agree to a seven-year contract extension with the Gamecocks in 2021. The contract pays her around $3 million annually, and she says now that it would take a special offer to be lured away from the team.

“If you’re gonna come for me, you gotta come correct,” she said. “My passion is here. Would I consider it? I don’t know. It would have to be the right situation.”

To her, the South Carolina job – in which she is in her 16th season – is something special. She’s grown the program into a powerhouse, and she knows it.

“I built this program in South Carolina, and I don’t want to just hand it off to someone who wouldn’t white-glove it,” Staley said. “You gotta white-glove this program.”