Equal Play Deserves Equal Pay

Equal Play Deserves Equal Pay

By Sheryl McAlister, a writer based in South Carolina

The article in the paper that day didn’t sit well with me. But I decided, it’s not really my business. I tried to pretend I didn’t have a dog in this particular fight. I was wrong.

A few weeks later, the local tv station ran a few seconds on the issue – but not much. Just sort of brought it up and then let it go without making much of a fuss. I was, frankly, surprised the reporter didn’t make a bigger deal out of it. Still, I thought. Why write about it?

Shame on me for being so short-sighted and lazy.

The news in April of this year was that the University of South Carolina had increased Coach Dawn Staley’s pay and extended her contract. It was expected. After all, Staley had taken the USC women’s basketball team to the promised land and had come home with all the goodies.

Staley turned in an unprecedented performance as USC women’s head basketball coach this year. Her continued success at South Carolina surpasses all who came before her and includes four straight Southeastern Conference regular season titles, three straight SEC tournament titles and a national championship.  For her extraordinary efforts and a championship, her compensation for 2017-18 was increased to $1.45 million.

The men’s basketball team was led by an equally capable Coach Frank Martin, who also turned in an unprecedented performance this year, taking his basketball team to the Final Four. For his extraordinary efforts and a Top 4 finish, his compensation was increased to $2.8 million.


David Caraviello of The Charleston Post & Courier reported on the increases in a couple stories last month.  “Staley’s base salary was increased in 2015 to $550,000 and her total compensation package was $1.1 million.” The paper also reported “Martin’s 2016 contract increased his total annual compensation from $2.1 million to $2.45 million.”

Ten days later, Caraviello and the Post & Courier reported: “The USC Board of Trustees … approved raises and extensions for both coaches. Women’s coach Staley received a four-year extension that will ultimately increase her annual compensation package to $2.1 million, while men’s coach Martin received a one-year extension that will raise his total package to $3.3 million by the final year of the deal.”

A breakdown of the numbers included total comp figures for 2017-18, and while Staley’s base salary and bonuses are reported to be higher than Martin’s, the total compensation figures tell a different story. Folks who determined the numbers would probably say that much of the detail behind the numbers hasn’t been reported. Maybe. But still.

I don’t know Staley or Martin. But like everybody else, I watched what they did this year. I watched them win. I watched them do what USC teams before them had never done. It was a fun ride, to say the least. But what was done after the fact is a shining example of much that is wrong about how we compensate men and women for doing the same job.

Rosamond Hutt writes of the “huge gender wage gap that persists in sports,” in a report released by the World Economic Forum. In a 2016 gender pay gap examination by the Wall Street Journal, the Journal reported that “women earn less than men in 439 of 446 major US occupations.”

A recent Fortune.com article by Madeline Farber cited “a Glassdoor study which found that even men and women with similar work experience and education levels who were working at the same company with the exact same job title … women, on average, were still paid less.”

Also worth mentioning, the Post & Courier report said the USC women’s associate head coach received a salary bump to $260,000 while the USC men’s assistant coach received a salary bump to $265,000.


Martin and Staley, two head basketball coaches, are by all accounts:

  • Good people
  • Beloved by fans and the media
  • Exceptional coaches and recruiters
  • Passionate, respected individuals
  • Of strong character and integrity
  • Winners
  • Community leaders
  • Loyal to the University
  • Apparently scandal-free

So all things being equal – and they are – why was the college basketball coach who made it to the Top 4 in the country compensated more favorably than the college basketball coach who made it to No. 1?

Because he’s a man? Really?


Copyright© Sheryl McAlister 2017.

Sources: The Charleston (SC) Post & Courier: April 11, 2017 & April 21, 2017. The Wall Street Journal: May 17, 2016. Fortune.com: April 3, 2017. World Economic Forum: September 15, 2016.

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  1. You so goooood! 

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S7, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Milena Herring May 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    I just really love this piece. I’m putting it on my crackbook page right now.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person


  3. Georgia Hallman May 20, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Sheryl, so glad you decided to not be lazy. Great blog. Wow, the male coach was getting nearly double. Alas, even in the most eqalitarian country in the world, Norway, women earn 15% less than their male colleagues doing the exact same job.

    My attorney added on the Equal Pay Act to my EEOC case, but because of a statue of limitation the arbitrator did not rule on that part of my case. Had I not discovered that the men on 3 different occasions were being paid more in base salaries, my base compensation, after 7 years, would have been $40,000 less than the men.

    I would like to urge you to write another blog and ask your readers if young women are given a 22% discount on their college degrees. That would not come close to what they will lose in total compensation over their working lives. I think that is the statistic today .. we earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar. For most of my working life it was 75%. That means my social security is less. Though I have not attempted to do the math based on my career, the approximate loss by a female white collar worker over the course of her career is over $1,000,000.
    BTW I did win my EEOC. It took 4.7 years. My attorney feels that for everyone one of me there are more like 15 to 20 women who cannot afford the cost of litigation, the time, or the potential harm to their careers.
    Ask more, go get em, Sheryl!
    Best, Georgia

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Hahahaha!! Georgia, as always, thanks!!!



  4. True and still so sad. I hope the school administration and board of t us tees reads this and begins to understand how they are complicit in the maintaining the glass ceiling. Shameful especially for an institution of higher learning. Not to mention that if they treat all their womens’ team coaches this way they are complicit in some serious Title IX infractions.

    Liked by 1 person


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