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Kim Mulkey Leaves Baylor for L.S.U.

Kim Mulkey Leaves Baylor for L.S.U.
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Kim Mulkey Leaves Baylor for L.S.U.

Kim Mulkey Leaves Baylor for L.S.U.

Louisiana state marked a major coup in women’s basketball on Sunday by hiring Kim Mulkey, who won three national championships in 21 years at Baylor, as a new coach.

Mulkey’s decision is perhaps the most significant coaching change in women’s college basketball in recent years, sending one of the country’s top coaches to one of the deepest leagues, the Southern Conference. -East. The fiercely competitive SEC, longtime flagship of women’s basketball, sent seven teams to the NCAA tournament this spring and one, South Carolina, to the Final Four.

During an appearance on the LSU campus on Monday, a day after deciding to leave Baylor, Mulkey noted the rich history of the college’s women’s basketball program but its dearth of national titles, and she warned that it could take time to build a competitor. LSU made five consecutive Final Fours from 2004 to 2008, but hasn’t returned since.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Mulkey said. “Let me remind you, rabid LSU fans who can be crazy and want the coaches laid off tomorrow: give him time, give him time. But I can assure you that is what I came here for.

Mulkey, 58, goes back to his roots. She grew up in Louisiana, where she was a four-time state champion at Hammond High School and won two national championships as a player at Louisiana Tech. She started her college coaching career at her alma mater, then went 632-104 at Baylor.

“Kim Mulkey is a Champion and Hall of Fame member, and we are delighted to welcome her home,” said Scott Woodward, Sporting Director of LSU. In recognition of Mulkey’s ties to the state – and the cultural significance of her hiring – Governor John Bel Edwards attended the pyrotechnics-infused press conference and cheering rally on Monday night, when she loaned allegiance to crayfish and famous strawberries from Ponchatoula, a town in his native parish.

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Mulkey’s achievements as a player – including an Olympic gold medal in 1984 – were followed by an equally remarkable coaching record. After being an assistant at Louisiana Tech, she became head coach at Baylor in 2000. The team had just finished a 7-20 season and had never made the NCAA tournament.

She led the Bears to national titles in 2005, 2012 and 2019. Mulkey’s teams made another Final Four and 11 more trips to the round of 16. Baylor has competed in the NCAA tournament every year except one during his tenure.

His 2011-12 championship team, led by Brittney Griner, were the best of the lot, finishing 40-0.

“She reminded me a lot of my dad – strict and fair,” Griner said around the time of Mulkey’s coaching style. “There are no favorites. There is no embedding. She tells you how it is and doesn’t hide anything.

The only woman to win an NCAA basketball championship as a player, assistant and head coach, Mulkey was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.

“We are grateful for the more than two decades Kim Mulkey has devoted to making Baylor women’s basketball one of the best programs in the country,” said Baylor athletic director Mack B. Rhoades IV.

In 2019, Mulkey took her champion team to the White House, the first women’s team to be fully honored by President Donald J. Trump.

“Would you like to work in the White House, by any chance?” Trump asked him. “No,” Mulkey replied. “We will take you,” he said. “We need help.”

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Asked Monday about her meeting with the Baylor players about his departure, she said: “All I could tell them was I was going home, coming home, and loving them and that I hoped they could understand and not be angry. at me. “

Mulkey’s success landed him a $ 2.27 million a year contract with Baylor, and LSU reportedly surpassed that number to attract him. LSU men’s coach Will Wade earns $ 2.5 million.

“It’s the one thing I never see changing – because they’ll always use the analogy, ‘Well, women’s basketball doesn’t make money’ – wages,” Mulkey said this year. “You have female basketball coaches – and you can name them – although they are well paid compared to other female coaches, they have done more for basketball than their male counterparts. But I bet these male counterparts are making more money. This is the thing that I am not sure at any point in my life that you will see a change. “

Mulkey comes again in a team in need of a turnaround. In eight seasons under Nikki Fargas, LSU made two round of 16 appearances. In 2020-21, it was 9-13. Fargas resigned on Saturday.

By then, Mulkey admitted, LSU had already made him an offer.

Alain Blinder and Gillian R. Brassil contributed reports.

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