LSU’s Kim Mulkey shrugs off piece released ahead of Sweet 16, profiling rifts during career: ‘Haven’t read it’

March 30, 2024

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Four-time NCAA Division I women’s basketball national champion Kim Mulkey presumably spent her Saturday morning putting the final touches on LSU’s game plan for their Sweet 16 matchup with the second-seeded UCLA Bruins.

But just hours before tipoff, The Washington Post released its much anticipated profile of Mulkey. The longtime college basketball coach recently placed a spotlight on the article ahead of its publication by saying she would take legal action against the newspaper if the “false story” about her were released.

“I’ve hired the best defamation law firm in the country, and I will sue the Washington Post if they publish a false story on me. Not many people are in a position to hold these kinds of journalists accountable, but I am, and I’ll do it,” Mulkey stated during a press conference on March 23 one day ahead of LSU’s game against Middle Tennessee State.

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Kim Mulkey press conference

LSU Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey listens to a question from the media after defeating the Ole Miss Rebels at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.  (Ken Ruinard/The Greenville News via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Mulkey said she was not aware that the article had been published on Saturday, although she suggested that she might not review it.

“Are you really surprised by the timing of it?” Mulkey told ESPN’s Holly Rowe on Saturday. “I can tell you I haven’t read it, I don’t know that I will read it. I’ll leave that up to my attorneys.”

The piece takes an in depth look at Mulkey’s coaching style, which appeared to spark rifts between her and some players over the years. “[F]ormer players say shame was a frequent tool in Mulkey’s coaching arsenal, whether during practice drills or in addresses to the team,” the report said.

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The conflicts involving multiple players, including former Baylor star Brittney Griner, appeared to stem from certain athletes’ sexual orientation. Griner, who was arrested at an airport in Russia in 2022, openly identifies as gay.

In a 2013 interview with Sports Illustrated, Griner was asked about the difficulties she faced when she decided to come out, given her stature as a public figure and prominent athlete.

“It really wasn’t too difficult,” Griner said. “I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that. I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out, and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”

Kim Mulkey complains

LSU Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey during the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game between the LSU Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks March 10, 2024, at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C. (John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Post cited interviews with former players and news reports that suggested the 61-year-old coach developed a reputation for holding “grudges” and would “clash with players, including about their appearances and displays of their sexuality.”

Griner is one of the most high-profile players that Mulkey publicly clashed with, and the rift seemed to reach its peak after Griner’s imprisonment. Mulkey, who coached Baylor to three national titles, only publicly addressed the situation once, during a radio appearance.

Mulkey’s former Louisiana Tech teammate Mickie DeMoss said she hoped the coach would use her platform to speak out.

Kim Mulkey points on court

LSU Lady Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey gives direction against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders during the second half at Pete Maravich Assembly Center.  (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

“I really was hoping that Kim would make a statement. Really hoping she would. You’ve got a kid that’s stuck in Russia; I mean, that’s bigger than any feud that y’all had. No one knew how long they were going to detain her over there. We were all hoping [Mulkey] could just rise above it for that moment. Just get her back home. But she didn’t.”

The piece also touched on several other aspects of the LSU coach’s life, including how her singular drive and unyielding loyalty have resulted in a strained relationship with some of her immediate family members. The story also explores how her upbringing in rural Louisiana shaped her into the complex woman she is today.

Through her attorneys, Mulkey pushed back against any suggestion that she did not support Griner. Mulkey’s lawyers also sent a letter to the Post denying that she treated any of her former players who identified as gay “more harshly or differently.”

Fox News Digital contacted LSU’s athletic department and left messages seeking comment.

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Mulkey is in her third season in Baton Rouge. She inked a lucrative 10-year contract extension after she led LSU to the first-ever national title in the history of the women’s program. She also had a standout career as a college basketball player, winning two championships at Louisiana Tech. Mulkey was also a member of Team USA’s gold medal team during the 1984 Olympic Games.

The defending national champion LSU Tigers pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat UCLA and advanced to the Elite 8 on Saturday. LSU now awaits the winner of Saturday’s game between Caitlin Clark-led Iowa Hawkeyes and the Colorado Buffaloes.

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