The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Mulkey in the Spotlight: A Meta-Analysis of the Controversial LSU Coach

AP Photo / Mary Altaffer

The Washington Post released an in-depth article of Louisiana State University (LSU) Women’s Basketball Head Coach Kim Mulkey on March 30, depicting the coach as someone who’s single-minded determination and behavior tended to leave her players and the college basketball community divided.

Mulkey has had a star-studded career on the court as a player and coach, winning six total national championships. At her alma mater, she was an All-American at Louisiana Tech University, winning the 1981 AIAW title and the inaugural women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title in 1982. As a coach, Mulkey led the Baylor University Lady Bears to three national championships, and she would later bring LSU their first-ever championship in 2023.

Kent Babb of The Washington Post wrote the recent profile, highlighting Mulkey’s tensions with players and community members on and off the court. Prior to publication, as reports began to fly about Babb’s upcoming profile, Mulkey attacked the Post, threatening to sue the newspaper for defamation if it published Babb’s “false” article about her coaching style on and off the court.

Ahead of her LSU teams tip-off in its Sweet 16 game, ESPN informed Mulkey of the articles publication.

“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 how you want to look at it. But are you really surprised? Are you really surprised by the timing of it? But I can tell you I haven’t read it [and] don’t know that I will read it. I’ll leave that up to my attorneys.” 

There was rampant speculation about what Babb’s article might include, with theories ranging from roles in political scandals to possible recruiting violations and further crimes. It does not appear that Mulkey’s threats to sue for defamation are warranted, as the profile refrained from any groundbreaking stories and covered familiar topics with new perspectives from Mulkey’s family and former players.

Babb focused on personal stories from Mulkey’s childhood, looking at her strained relationships with her sister and father, also leaning into her legendary career as a player at Louisiana Tech. Additionally, Babb talked about some of Mulkey’s run-ins with former Baylor Bear Brittney Griner and other former players who have questioned her support of their sexuality throughout the years.

Babb held extensive interviews with Mulkey’s father, Les Mulkey, and sister, Tammy Mulkey, who are now estranged from the coach. The LSU coach has not spoken with her father in 37 years due to his divorce from Mulkey’s mother during her childhood. Mulkey and her sister also had a falling out, though Tammy Mulkey would not disclose any details in the profile.

“I just miss the memories,” Tammy Mulkey told Babb for The Washington Post. “I wish I could have it all back.”

Babb focuses on Griner’s depiction of Mulkey’s coaching style, telling the post the coach handled her differently in Waco, Texas. Griner also accused Mulkey of telling gay players to keep their sexuality private. In response, former LSU star Alexis Morris told ESPN, “Coach Mulkey is not homophobic.”

Additionally, Babb highlighted former Baylor player Kelli Griffin, who called Mulkey an amazing coach who made her life “hell.” Griffin claims Mulkey suspended her after a fight with an ex-girlfriend and teammate, but didn’t suspend the other player, who had not come out as gay. 

Although the article highlights Mulkey’s least flattering coaching moments and controversies, Babb acknowledges her success and paints a glowing picture of how the Louisiana native is now at the forefront of women’s basketball through her success on the court throughout the 21st century.

“Coaches don’t win 723 games, reach five Final Fours and hang around this long by being cuddly,” Babb wrote. “Mulkey isn’t your grandmother or your mascot and while everyone else is fighting for women’s basketball, she’s fighting against something because it’s the fight that drives her.

While Babb targeted Mulkey’s fiery coaching style, his report created a well-rounded story of her life, highlighting her expertise on the court and her competitive mindset she’s kept throughout her career. Together, Babb presented a lighter tone than what Mulkey and the media originally expected, crafting a profile encompassing the many stories, accomplishments and controversies from her studded career.

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