Two ex-Baylor women’s basketball players who played under Kim Mulkey spoke out against the LSU coach on Monday after she opted not to answer a question regarding her former player, detained WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Mulkey, Baylor’s coach from 2001 to 2021, was asked earlier in the day to comment on Griner’s ongoing detainment in Russia during LSU’s media day. Despite having an estranged relationship with the former Baylor star, the Hall of Famer found great success coaching the Griner-led Lady Bears from 2009 to 2013, tallying a combined 135–15 record—including a 40-0 run to the national title in 2012.
Coming into the day, Mulkey had yet to offer any public remarks on Griner’s situation since her arrest in Moscow in February. Cory Diaz of The Daily Advertiser asked the 60-year-old for her thoughts on the matter but was met with a swift non-response after Diaz mentioned he hadn’t seen any past comments.
“And you won’t,” Mulkey said before moving on to answer a different question. Griner’s association with her former coach has been in a bad place publicly since the 31-year-old entered the WNBA as the first overall pick nine years ago; after coming out as gay in Feb. 2013, Griner told ESPN Mulkey discouraged Baylor players from being open about their sexuality for recruiting reasons.
The Tigers coach came under fire on social media following the press conference, prompting a slew of reactions to her dismissal of the question. Queen Egbo, a 2022 first-round pick by the WNBA’s Fever, and free-agent guard and former WNBA second-rounder Chloe Jackson were among those who addressed the situation on Twitter. Both players played for Baylor during the 2018–19 season, when the Lady Bears won Mulkey’s third title.
Egbo issued a warning to future recruits based on Mulkey’s actions, tweeting. “A player that built Baylor, 2 national titles, & a 40-0 record. Yet her former coach refuses to say anything or simply just show any kind of support. Keep that in mind when you’re choosing schools.”
“And I will say it again. SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES, smh,” said Jackson, who starred on the ’19 title team.
Griner has been in Russian custody since February following her arrest at a Moscow-area airport for possessing hashish oil in her luggage. She was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony on Aug. 4 after being convicted of smuggling drugs with criminal intent following a monthlong trial. The United States government and Russia are reportedly still exploring a prisoner exchange that would bring Griner home, although there has been no word on where things stand.
As the efforts to return Griner to the U.S. wane on, her alma mater hopes to honor her this upcoming season. Second-year Baylor coach Nicki Collen also spoke with reporters Monday and touched on the idea of a possible jersey retirement in the near future, noting Griner “was Baylor” and made the team “a household name.”
“We’re talking about it, we’ve talked about doing it as a part of the new arena. Basically it’s been a big deal to do it right by her,” Collen said, per Matt Lively of KCEN Sports.
She added, “BG’s family, she’s Baylor family so, to me, anything we can do to help her and her family is important.”
Collen was asked about Mulkey’s comments but declined to address them.
As of Monday, Griner, whom the U.S. classified as “wrongfully detained” in May, has been in Russian custody for 221 days.
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