Caitlin Clark Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The popularity of women’s college basketball has skyrocketed in the past few years thanks to the excellent play of Iowa star Caitlin Clark. And South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is now giving Clark her flowers for this.

In a recent radio interview, Staley was not afraid to credit Clark as the lone reason that ratings have gone up in the sport.

“I want women’s basketball to grow, and I’m not too shy about saying why it grows,” Staley said during her appearance on 670 The Score. ” (Caitlin) Clark made it grow over the past two years. “Caitlin Clark is the sole reason why viewership has shot through the roof for our game. Sole reason.”

The numbers certainly back up what Staley is saying. ESPN broke viewership ratings in the sport during the NCAA Tournament on three separate occasions, all of which included Clark.

The Elite Eight matchup between LSU and Iowa first broke the previous viewership record in women’s college basketball. And that only improved in Iowa’s Final Four matchup against UConn.

Finally, ratings hit an astronomical high for the National Championship between Staley’s South Carolina squad and Iowa, with a record 18.7 million viewers tuning in to watch.

Staley did add that South Carolina’s undefeated season did play a little bit of a factor in the high viewership. But she ultimately praised Clark the most for pushing ratings over the top.

“They tuned in to see Caitlin Clark, but what they did get? They got Caitlin Clark, and they got South Carolina,” Staley said. “They got a number of players that they can now cheer for.”

Only time will tell whether the popularity around the sport will stick around now that Clark is heading to the WNBA. But it is certainly clear that the NCAA needs to build a new star similar to Clark if they do indeed want people to care about the sport.

[670 The Score]

About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.