Brittney Griner's Former Coach Kim Mulkey Declines to Comment on Star's Detention

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 26, 2022

BATON ROUGE, LA - MARCH 19: LSU  Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey speaks in an interview after the game between the LSU Tigers and the Jackson State Lady Tigers during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament held at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on March 19, 2022 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Andrew Wevers/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Andrew Wevers/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey declined to address Brittney Griner's ongoing wrongful detention in Russia.

During a media conference Monday, a reporter referenced Mulkey's general silence on Griner's plight while asking the coach for her thoughts.

"And you won't," Mulkey responded.

philip lewis @Phil_Lewis_

“I wanted to get your thoughts on the Britney Griner situation, I don’t think I’ve seen anything from you on that.”<br><br>LSU basketball coach Kim Mulkey: “And you won't.” <a href="https://t.co/C9sFFVktn8">https://t.co/C9sFFVktn8</a><br><br> <a href="https://t.co/Rxtvu6uynV">pic.twitter.com/Rxtvu6uynV</a>

Chloe Jackson and Queen Egbo, who played under Mulkey at Baylor, didn't take kindly to the comment:

Chloe Jackson @Clj_0

And I will say it again. SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES, smh.

Queen @QueenEgbo_

two final fours**

Griner is perhaps the greatest player to feature for Mulkey during her Hall of Fame coaching career. The former Baylor star was a two-time winner of the Wade Trophy and helped guide the Bears to a national championship in 2012.

Griner is second all-time in program history in points (3,283), third in rebounds (1,305) and first in blocks (748).

However, her relationship with her alma mater remained strained for years.

The Phoenix Mercury star, who's gay, told ESPN in 2013 that Mulkey and other Baylor assistants told players not to divulge their sexuality.

"It was a recruiting thing," she said. "The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids come play for Baylor."

Kate Fagan, who worked for ESPN at the time and helped with the story, claimed in May 2021 on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (via Insider's Meredith Cash) that Mulkey "believed that I had forced Brittney Griner to say this." Fagan went on to allege Mulkey spoke to her superiors and attempted to get her fired.

Griner later reflected in her 2014 memoir how Baylor's wider institutional stance on homosexuality made her feel less than and that "no matter how much support I felt as a basketball player at Baylor, it still doesn't erase all the pain I felt there."

In conjunction with Coming Out Day in 2021, Griner spoke with ESPN's Josh Weinfuss and again alluded to her difficulty at Baylor. She said she "wasn't giving everybody my whole authentic self" and didn't fully come out to herself until she left the school and entered the pro ranks.

With Mulkey no longer at Baylor and Nicki Collen now coaching the Bears, there was some hope the school would begin to formally honor Griner's contributions.

Last December, the seven-time WNBA All-Star told ESPN's M.A. Voepel she hopes to have her jersey retired, calling it "something I would definitely cherish and love." She also addressed her relationship—or lack thereof—with Mulkey.

"It's something I thought maybe we could have talked about," Griner said. "But it wasn't, really ... not with open ears, probably from both sides, from me or her. We're probably two strong-headed individuals. So it's tough. But I definitely wish Kim well. I know LSU got a good coach. So I'm happy for her."

Voepel also reached out to Mulkey, who said "she will always be grateful for what Griner did at the school."


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