Dawn Staley had a message for nonbelievers after her team advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

“If you don’t believe in God, something’s wrong with you, seriously,” the University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach said during an on-court interview after the game, adding that God made her team’s prayers come true.

Many who watched the moment praised Staley for once again sharing her faith on a big stage. But others questioned why she swiped at nonbelievers, noting that there are plenty of basketball fans who don’t believe in God.

Dawn Staley’s religion

Staley speaks regularly about her Christian faith, including on social media.

On Sunday alone, she tweeted about Easter, her pregame devotional centered on Jeremiah 31:3 and her team’s “prayer warriors.”

“To God be the Glory!! Thank you to all of our prayer warriors who call on the main line to help get us to another final four,” Staley wrote.

Staley also thanked God after her team won the NCAA Tournament title in 2022.

“I have to give glory to God, glory to God,” Staley said, per an ESPN video clip. “I think people don’t really understand that our path was divinely ordered. And the order was for us to be national champions on this day.”

Backlash to Dawn Staley

Staley’s comments Sunday after South Carolina beat Oregon State to advance to the Final Four sparked a few different varieties of negative feedback.

Some people took to social media to urge her to be more respectful toward the nonreligious community, while others questioned whether it’s appropriate to pray for a win.

Still others argued that Staley is abusing her position of authority at a secular institution when she promotes her faith.

“I am not anti religion and consider myself a Christian but it makes me so uncomfortable when its invoked re: winning sports games,” tweeted Lindsay Gibbs, who writes a newsletter on women’s sports.

Gibbs later clarified that she’s always uncomfortable with this phenomenon, not just when Staley does it.

In the prayer warrior tweet, Staley appeared to respond to the initial backlash over her on-court interview.

“I am not ashamed to praise (God) for what he continues to do for me and mine. If you’re a nonbeliever it wasn’t for you — wish you well with your beliefs,” she wrote.

Understanding the role of religion in sports

South Carolina’s next game

After Sunday’s win, South Carolina advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

The team, which is 36-0 on the season, will play North Carolina State on Friday for a spot in the final.