Bigger than ball: Mulkey’s deafening silence
The GIST: In a press conference on Monday, LSU head coach (HC) Kim Mulkey cut off a reporter, who said he hadn’t “seen anything” from her on WNBA star Brittney Griner’s wrongful detention in Russia, with a curt “and you won’t.”
- The controversial former Baylor HC’s callous response quickly and rightfully drew ire from the basketball community.
The history: Before taking the job at LSU, Mulkey was near synonymous with Baylor women’s basketball, having led the Lady Bears from 2001 to 2021, including three national championship wins.
- Griner suited up for Baylor from 2009 to 2013 and was essential to the 2012 squad that ran a 40-0 season record all the way to claim the natty.
The backlash: Mulkey’s silence on Griner’s 223-day detention has deservedly sparked outrage. Indiana Fever rookie and member of Baylor’s 2019 championship team, Queen Egbo (pronounced EGG-bo), tweeted, “A player that built Baylor…Yet her former coach refuses to say anything or simply just show any kind of support…”
- USWNT star Megan Rapinoe also called out Mulkey, commenting on Instagram, “This is honestly just cruel and evil and even more honestly….ITS SHOWING SIS. That hate is seeping out.”
Louder than words: It’s not the first time Mulkey’s worrisome beliefs have been exposed by her silence. The coach has notoriously remained mute when confronted with racial and LGBTQIA+ issues, creating an environment where non-heterosexual athletes, including Griner, were encouraged to hide their sexuality.
- And when she has used her voice, it’s been detrimental. Mulkey was dismissive of campus sexual assault concerns in 2017, and required the majority-Black 2019 championship team to visit the White House under Trump’s racist and sexist administration.
The new coach: Though horrifying, Mulkey’s lack of comment aligns with her problematic attitudes. But current Baylor HC Nicki Collen, who never coached Griner, proved what leadership should look like.
- Speaking for five minutes about Griner, Collen said, “BG is family. She’s Baylor family. To me, anything we can do to help her and her family is important.”