South Carolina’s Dawn Staley draws strong reactions over remarks about trans participation in women’s sports

South Carolina Gamecocks basketball coach Dawn Staley sparked fierce reactions on social media Saturday after she was asked about transgender participation in women’s sports.

Staley and the Gamecocks outlasted N.C. State in the Final Four Friday night and will face Iowa in the national championship Sunday. During a press conference, OutKick’s Dan Zaksheske asked Staley her thoughts on the burning issue in the U.S.

“I’m of the opinion of, if you’re a woman, you should play. If you consider yourself a woman, and you want to play sports or vice versa, you should be able to play. That’s my opinion. You want me to go deeper?” she said.

Dawn Staley vs NC State

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley watches from the bench during the first half of a Final Four game against North Carolina State in the NCAA Tournament April 5, 2024, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

When asked whether she thought “transgender women should be able to participate in women’s college basketball,” Staley responded, “Yes.”

“That’s the question you want to ask, I’ll give you that. Yes, yes. So, now the barnstormer people are going to flood my timeline and be a distraction to me on one of the biggest days of our game, and I’m OK with that. I really am,” she added.


Staley’s remarks kicked off a debate on social media.

Riley Gaines, an OutKick contributor who hosts the “Gaines for Girls” podcast, shared her thoughts.


“Dawn Staley knows perfectly well that men’s basketball is a totally different sport than women’s basketball,” she said. “That’s obvious by the speed of the game, the size of the ball … the sheer amount of layups compared to dunks when a player gets a fast break.

“I wonder if Dawn Staley also supports 18U playing with 12U, or heavyweights fighting the featherweights or Olympians competing in the Paralympics. It always sucks seeing a well-established woman who has broken barriers for women in sports turn into a sellout in the name of ‘inclusion.’ The women’s category was created to be intentionally exclusive by design. Go Hawks.”

Staley on the sidelines

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley watches from the bench during the second half of a Final Four game against North Carolina State in the women’s NCAA Tournament Friday, April 5, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Others gave their opinion on X.

South Carolina state Rep. Adam Morgan wrote, “Our tax dollars shouldn’t fund people and programs pushing these embarrassing ideologies that contradict SC values.”

Piers Morgan wrote: “So by this logic, if LeBron says he’s a woman, he can play in the WNBA? Utterly ridiculous.”

Former NFL player Chris Manno wrote, “Just an absolutely ridiculous statement. The things these people will say for self preservation is laughable. Imagine in her day, Karl Malone or David Robinson woke up one morning and said ‘I feel like a woman today.’

“We’d have no idea who Dawn Staley is. Always funny to me how things become okay to those it has no influence upon.”

Lisa Bluder coaches her team

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder talks to her team during a timeout in the first half of a Final Four game against UConn in the women’s NCAA Tournament Friday, April 5, 2024, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Sports journalist Lindsay Gibbs added, “What an incredible moment to have the top coach of the top team on the biggest stage face the question head on and stand up for trans women. Dawn Staley is remarkable.”

Others praised Staley for her response.

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder was also asked the same question. She said her focus was on the national title game against South Carolina, but the question was an “important issue” for “another time.”

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