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Dawn Staley says Caitlin Clark's WNBA contract is "par for the course" and stars will continue to grow the game

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley
Philadelphia native and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley reflects on championship win and state of WNBA 08:22

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- University of South Carolina head women's basketball coach Dawn Staley urged patience after Caitlin Clark's WNBA contract went viral on social media following the draft

Fresh off her third NCAA women's basketball championship, Staley, a North Philly native, joined CBS News Philadelphia for an exclusive interview on Thursday, where she discussed her recent title run and much more. 

Clark, who lost to Staley and Gamecocks in the title game, was picked by the Indiana Fever in the WNBA draft earlier this week and social media erupted once her contract numbers were unveiled. 

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South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley celebrates after the Final Four college basketball championship game against Iowa in the women's NCAA Tournament, April 7, 2024, in Cleveland. South Carolina won 87-75. Morry Gash / AP

Clark will make $76,000 in her first year of the four-year, $338,000 contract, which is peanuts compared to what the No. 1 pick of the NBA draft makes, despite a reportedly 8-figure endorsement deal from Nike. For example, Victor Wembanyama, who was picked No. 1 in the last NBA draft, signed a four-year, $55 million deal. 

While the difference in money is stark, Staley said it's "par for the course."

"My reaction is she's making much more than a national champion, A'ja Wilson, when she came out," Staley said. "I think it's par for the course. Caitlin Clark is going to make much more money outside of her salary than 99% of America. I think our league is a very young league. The WNBA is a very, very league. If we're going to be anything like the NBA, when the NBA was 28 years old, the salaries were prob comparable to the WNBA, so we need time."

Wilson, who was coached by Staley when she won her first national title at South Carolina in 2017, was also selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft in 2018 like Clark. 

After the Las Vegas Aces selected Wilson, she earned a four-year, $232,178 contract, per Spotrac. Following that contract, Wilson signed a two-year, $398,422 contract with the Aces. 

"This has been an issue with every class that's come out of college until now. I don't think we need to make it a bigger deal because we have a high-profile issue in Caitlin Clark. We've been fighting this fight for a very long time," Staley said. 

Staley played in the WNBA for nine seasons for the Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets and retired in 2006. 

The former Dobbins Tech guard has seen the women's basketball game grow over her playing and coaching career, and she said that it will continue to happen, especially with stars like Clark, Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso leading the way.

"So now it's their turn, to take our league to the next level," Staley said, "so I do think the CBA is up next year and then we can talk about raising those salaries, but we also got to get the sponsorships to pay them."

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