Kim Mulkey’s controversial coaching style addressed in much-anticipated profile

By Thomson Reuters Mar 30, 2024 | 1:44 PM

The Washington Post’s highly anticipated story on Kim Mulkey was published on Saturday, with the wide-ranging profile walking a fine line between heaping praise on the LSU coach while detailing a combative side that can alienate others.

Mulkey previously threatened legal action against the newspaper, which released the story hours before the Tigers’ game against UCLA in the Sweet 16 of the Women’s NCAA Tournament.

Mulkey, herself, was not aware of the story being released prior to Saturday’s game.

“You’re telling me something I didn’t know,” Mulkey told ESPN. “So you’re the bearer of good news or bad news or however you want to look at it.

“Are you really surprised? Are you really surprised by the timing of it? But I can tell you I haven’t read it, don’t know that I will read it. I’ll leave that up to my attorneys.”

Written by Kent Babb, the story details Mulkey’s early life as well as her estrangement from her father and sister. It also addresses her coaching career in which Babb called her “a hoops whisperer, an exceptional teacher, a coach willing to dive deeply into players’ emotions to push them past their preconceived limits. She is also one of college basketball’s most colorful personalities, viewed by some as an almost cartoonishly ornery supervillain.”

The profile also addresses controversies, including Mulkey coming to the defense of the Baylor football program during its sexual assault and Title IX scandal in 2017. She also has clashed with numerous gay players — namely Brittney Griner — as well as Kelli Griffin.

“She made my life hell,” Griffin said, noting that Mulkey drew attention to her clothes and issued a suspension following an altercation with ex-girlfriend and teammate Morghan Medlock. Medlock was not suspended, while Griffin would later quit the team.

“Mulkey’s attorneys, in letters to The Post, denied that Mulkey treated gay players ‘more harshly or differently,'” Babb wrote. “They provided an affidavit from former Baylor player Morghan Medlock, who said that she was in a relationship with Griffin and that she never witnessed Mulkey mistreat Griffin or other gay athletes.”

Mulkey said during a 2013 interview with OutSports that she didn’t place importance on a player’s sexuality. “I don’t think it’s anybody’s business,” she said at the time. “Whoever you are. I don’t care to know that.”

Mulkey, 61, finished with an .859 winning percentage over 21 seasons in Baylor with three national championships. She won another national title in her second season at LSU, where she is now 90-13 in her third year.

–Field Level Media