I'm a bit late to this party, which seems to be a running theme in my life right now, but as you've probably heard, Dawn Staley elected not to interview with Ohio St. after discussions with AD Ray Tanner over the weekend. Staley had this to say about her decision:
"While it's flattering to be contacted by other programs, staying at South Carolina was not a difficult decision," Staley said. "With what we're building here and the outpouring of support I've received from the administration, fans and community leaders, it was an easy choice. I want to stay here and finish what we have started."
If you haven't done so yet, I'd recommend taking a minute to watch this video of Coach Staley. You'll find it heartwarming to hear Staley express her commitment to her program and the school. (You might also find yourself surprised to hear that Nikki Haley called to tell Staley how much she means to the state. Take a good deed from the governor where you can get it, I suppose.) You'll also hear Staley express confidence in her ability to win a national championship, which is of course great to hear. Staley does field a question about the flag and the NCAA boycott, and she says something that I had suspected she might feel: She is frustrated over the situation, but she hopes that she can take part in raising awareness of the issue and potentially changing things. Staley, as a coach whose program will likely be in the NCAA Tournament for many years to come, will have many opportunities to speak her mind about this issue and could be instrumental in persuading people against keeping the flag on the Statehouse grounds. It's going to happen one day, and Staley will be able to claim a role in the event if she stays rather than running from the conflict, not that I'd necessarily blame her if she did so.
You also have to give Ray Tanner a round of applause for his handling of this situation. Tanner promised he would do whatever he needed to do to keep Staley in Columbia, and he came through. He made a good decision, as Staley adds a lot of value to the athletics department by having brought to life a formerly moribund program. The most successful athletics departments, such as Ohio St.'s, are modeled on adding value wherever possible among the major sports and letting each program feed off the others success. Tanner is to be applauded for taking a proactive approach to making sure that South Carolina follows this winning formula.