Santa Clara, CA (WACH)- South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner was faced with the biggest decision of his career less than a year into his new role: Keeping his Women's Basketball coach.
Gamecocks Women's Basketball head coach Dawn Staley was fresh off of taking her team to two straight NCAA Tournament appearances and Ohio State was looking for a new head coach. Tanner agreed the Buckeyes could pursue Staley, but it wasn't going to happen without a fight.
"They called and I was thinking maybe it was about football," Tanner said. "I honestly didn't know what it was, and then they said, we want your women's basketball coach."
As a two-time national champion head coach, Tanner couldn't keep his competitive juices from flowing. He had to make a move.
"I have great respect for Dawn and I didn't want her to leave," Tanner explained. "I reached out to President Pastides and told him I needed his support."
After conversations, Staley never boarded the plane for Columbus.
"It was a great decision," Tanner said. "Not just mine, the Board of Trustees and President Pastides as well. We're so excited she's here and Gamecock nation is ecstatic."
Under Staley, the Gamecocks have reached their second Sweet 16 in three seasons. They'll try and advance to their first Elite Eight in the Staley-era when they face North Carolina Sunday night in Stanford, CA.