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Dawn Staley on significance of statue in Columbia where Confederate flag once stood: ‘Bigger than basketball’

In recognition of her contributions to the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team and the community, head coach Dawn Staley was honored by the City of Columbia with a statue erected in the downtown area where a Confederate flag once stood for decades. I was forced to do so.

Appearing on ESPN’s “College Gameday,” Staley spoke about the importance of the honor, noting that a statue of one of his best players, A’ja Wilson, already stands in the city.

“I wanted A’ja Wilson to be the only USC athlete to be given that honor,” Staley said before Sunday’s Gamecocks contest against Georgia. “This is obviously bigger than basketball. That’s what the city of Columbia wanted. I didn’t play politics for that. They wanted to bring it and they wanted to represent it.”

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South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley (Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)

“Our city is diverse, our state is diverse, and this is amazing because there are very few women, much less Black women, who receive this honor.”

The city worked with Statues for Equality, an organization that aims to increase the number of women honored for their contributions to the community.

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Staley, whose parents were originally from South Carolina before moving to Philadelphia, said she knows her mother would be “so proud.”

Dawn Staley speaks to the media

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said her mother would be “very proud.” (Tim Cowie/NCAA Photo via Getty Images)

“I think it’s incredible that I, sitting here today, probably don’t understand the importance of that,” Staley added.

Local businesses contributed funds towards the statue’s construction, and the Statue of Equality provided the remaining 50% of the statue’s construction costs.

The statue, approved in February 2023, depicts Staley cutting down a basketball net after winning a championship.

Championships have become synonymous with Staley’s program at USC since he arrived in 2008. She built it from scratch when she arrived in 2008. Shamcox won her two national titles with Staley leading the way (2017, 2022), and she holds her 426-106 career record. along with the program.

Dawn Staley reacts to game against East Carolina

The city of Columbia, South Carolina, is honoring Shamcocks head coach Dawn Staley with a statue. (Lance King/Getty Images)

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Staley became an integral part of Columbia, both on the court and in the community. The city is now honoring her accomplishments.

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