In just seven seasons at the helm, Dawn Staley is well on her way to shaping the Temple women's basketball program into the national powerhouse that she promised when taking over on April 12, 2000. The 2004 and 2005 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year and 2005 Regional Coach of the Year, Staley has won 151 games, becoming the fastest coach in Temple women's basketball history to reach 100 wins. She has led the Owls to their first-ever A-10 Tournament titles (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006), five NCAA appearances since 2002 and a first-ever Top 25 National Ranking. In 2006, Temple won its third straight Atlantic 10 title, a feat that has been accomplished just one other time in A-10 history. The Owls have won four of the last six Conference titles and are ranked 31st on the nation's list of most wins over the last seven years. She also helped to produce Temple's first-ever WNBA First Round Draft Picks, when Candice Dupree ('06) and Kamesha Hairston ('07) were drafted by the Chicago Sky and Connecticut Sun, respectively. All of this hard work has not gone unnoticed. In the summer of 2007, Philadelphia's favorite daughter was voted Philadelphia's "Best College Coach" in Philadelphia Magazine's "Best of Philly" edition.
The Philadelphia native has also taken an active role in bringing her beloved Olympics to the City of Brotherly Love. Staley was chosen as a co-chairperson for Philadelphia 2016, the entity in charge of bringing the 2016 Olympic Games to Philadelphia. Staley served alongside Joseph M. Torsella, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center and David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation.
Most of these accomplishments occurred while Staley maintained her highly publicized "summer job" as an All-Star player for the WNBA's Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets. Staley retired from WNBA competition following the 2006 season but not before leaving quite a legacy in the 10-year league. During the 2006 season, she was voted an All-Star for the fifth time, becoming the first player in WNBA history to play for both the East and the West squads. She also edged Katie Douglas, 17-16, to win the WNBA's first-ever Three Point Challenge. Staley was also honored as a member of the WNBA's All-Decade team. Chosen from among 30 nominees by fans, a panel of national and WNBA-market media and the league's current players and coaches, the WNBA All-Decade Team recognized the 10 players who have contributed the most to the overall success of the WNBA. Consideration was given to on-court performance and ability, leadership, sportsmanship and community service, as well as to their contribution to team success and the growth of women's basketball. As if all of this wasn't enough, Staley now has an award named in her honor. Beginning in 2007, the WNBA will present the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award to the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community in which she works or lives.
In the summer of 2004 she captured her third Olympic Gold Medal, playing for team USA in the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece and was selected as the United States flag bearer for the opening ceremonies. After leading the U.S. to a perfect 8-0 record, Staley earned her second USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year Award.
Temple's head coach since the 2000-01 season, Staley has led the Owls to five NCAA Tournaments in her seven years at the helm. She is just one of two players in NCAA Tournament history to be voted the NCAA Final Four Outstanding Player and coach a team in the NCAA Tournament. USC's Cheryl Miller is the other. In 2002, Temple captured the school's first Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament title and in 2004 she led the Owls to the top of the A-10 East standings with a 14-2 record and Temple's second A-10 Tournament title for her second trip to the Big Dance as a coach. Temple has earned the East Division Championship three times under her tutelage, including the 2005 season, and finished the year with a perfect 16-0 Conference mark, becoming the first team in A-10 history to go undefeated in regular season conference play and capture the Conference Championship. Temple finished with a 28-4 overall record, setting a program single-season record for wins in a season. The Owls won their NCAA First Round game against Louisiana Tech in 2005, marking just the second time in program history that Temple has advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Before falling to Rutgers in the NCAA Second Round, Temple boasted the nation's longest winning streak of any men's or women's team, winning 25 straight games. She has also captured Temple's only four conference championships and earned six postseason bids. The 2004 and 2005 Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year and the 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006 Philadelphia Big 5 Coach of the Year, Staley currently boasts a 151-67 record. She is also ranked 31st on the list of winningest active head coaches (.693 winning percentage). Only three coaches that have coached seven or less years at the Division I level are ranked higher.
Staley began her storied basketball career at Dobbins Tech High School (1986-89) in Philadelphia where she was named USA Today's National High School Player of the Year and led Dobbins to three straight Philadelphia Public League championships. Staley was a three-time Kodak All-American while starring at the University of Virginia (1989-92). She helped UVA to a 110-21 record and four appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Three of those trips led to Final Four appearances in 1990, 1991 and 1992, and in 1991 the Cavaliers were the national runners-up. She is ranked sixth all-time on the NCAA's career steals list with 454 and was named the National Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992. In addition, she was the ACC Conference Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992 and the Rookie of the Year in 1989. She is the only player, male or female, in ACC history to tally more than 2,000 points, 700 rebounds, 700 assists and 400 steals, and was just the second person in Conference history to record a triple-double, a feat she did twice. To commemorate 25 years of Division 1 basketball, ESPN.com voted Staley as one of the "Top Players of the Past 25 Years."
From 1992 to 1994, Staley played with a number of professional teams in France, Italy, Brazil and Spain. In 1994, she returned to American soil and competed for USA Basketball in the Goodwill games and the World Championships. That year, Staley was named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. In 1996, Staley guided the historic USA Basketball Women's team that compiled a perfect 60-0 record and captured the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Staley began her United States professional playing career when she joined the Richmond Rage of the ABL in 1996-97 and helped the team to the ABL finals. The Rage moved to Philadelphia for the 1997-98 season and played at The Liacouras Center on Temple's main campus. She averaged 14.0 ppg., 7.2 apg., and 3.5 rpg. in her ABL career and was a two-time ABL All-Star. Staley then moved to the WNBA as the number nine pick of the Charlotte Sting in the 1999 WNBA draft. In her first season in Charlotte, she averaged 11.5 ppg and ranked third in the league in assists with 5.5 apg. en route to leading the Sting to a second place finish in the WNBA's Eastern Conference. In the summer of 2005, Staley was traded to the Houston Comets.
During the summer of 2000, Staley was quite busy as she played another season for the Charlotte Sting and was a member of the first Women's "Dream Team," a collection of women's professional players that represented the United States in the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Despite those commitments she still found time to head the Dawn Staley Foundation which is aimed at giving inner-city children positive input. The foundation sponsors after-school programs, a three-hour focus on academics and athletics at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center, as well as summer leagues and fund-raising activities. She was awarded the 1999 WNBA Entrepreneurial Spirit Award for her work with the Foundation. She is also a two-time winner of the WNBA's Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.
In addition to the philanthropic work that Staley does with her Foundation, she is also heavily involved in the WNBA's "Be Fit, Be Smart, Be Yourself" program, which is designed to educate teens and women about the risks and dangers of obesity and inactivity and to answer questions about healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices. The program seeks to raise self-esteem and confidence among teens. The Philadelphia native has also taken a role in promoting women's health, acting as a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and Health Partners.
Staley has been garnered both local and national attention for her community service endeavors. In 2005, Staley was awarded with Philadelphia's prestigious Wanamaker Award, presented annually to the "athlete, team or organization that has done the most to reflect credit upon Philadelphia and to the team or sport in which they excel." This was the second Wanamaker Award for Staley who is the only individual woman to ever win the award. She also took home the honor in 1997 and joins Joe Frazier ('68, '71) and Steve Carlton ('73, '83) as the only two-time individual winners of the award. Staley was chosen as the 2007 female recipient of the Henry P. Iba Citizenship Award. Given by the Rotary Club of Tulsa, the award is given each year to a male and female athlete who has excelled in both their sport and in their service to others. Past award winners include Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Karl Malone and Rebecca Lobo. Most recently, she was named one of Philadelphia's 75 Greatest Living Residents, one of Pennsylvania's Distinguished Daughters, an honor bestowed by Governor Rendell and his wife, and one of "The 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America" by the Institute for International Sport.
A five-time WNBA All-Star, Staley helped lead the Sting to the 2001 WNBA Finals despite Charlotte beginning the season with a 1-10 record. In 2003, Staley won the skills competition at the WNBA's All-Star Weekend, edging out Seattle's Sue Bird. Staley is one of just three women in American history to earn three consecutive Olympic basketball gold medals (Olympic teammates Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes are the others).
After retiring from Olympic competition following the 2004 Games, Staley continues to be involved with USA Basketball. In May of 2005, Staley was elected by a vote of USA Basketball's current athletes as an athlete representative on the USA Basketball Executive Committee. She will serve a three-year term alongside former USA Men's Pan American Games silver medalist Scott Paddock. In February of 2006, Staley was selected as an assistant coach for the 2006 USA Women's World Championship Team, headed by former Olympian and the WNBA's Seattle Storm Head Coach Anne Donovan. Staley coached the squad to a bronze medal alongside Duke Head Coach Gail Goestenkors and the WNBA's Connecticut Sun Head Coach Mike Thibault at the 2006 FIBA World Championships held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The staff was retained for the Women's Senior National Team through the 2008 Olympics and they led the team to a gold medal at the 2007 FIBA World Championships in Chile. In her first head coaching stint with USA Basketball, Staley led the 2007 Pan American Games squad to its first gold medal since 1987, when the team defeated host Brazil.