Top News

Baylor was entitled to let Kim Mulkey go to LSU, but this was a losing move

Baylor’s decision to let Kim Mulkey walk across state lines to Baton Rouge, La. is the rare occasion when it’s perfectly reasonable and embarrassingly unjustifiable.

The outfit is back in Texas doing her thang.

The NCAA Women’s Final Four is taking place in Dallas this weekend and Mulkey is in it. In their second season at LSU, the Tigers are in the Final Four.

Mulkey is one of those personalities that makes you smash your phone but you miss talking to her.

Whatever you think of The Mouth Without a Mute Button, her departure to LSU stings.

She says phrases that have infuriated a lot of people over the years, now for company, but she’s been great for Baylor. She was great for women’s sports in Texas. She’s great for women’s basketball.

I’ve dogged her for her callous attitude toward former Baylor All-American Brittney Griner, but Kim Mulkey left a hole in this entire state that can’t be filled.

Baylor should never have left a coach the way she did. She could be one of four female basketball coaches the average fan can name.

The woman was able to sell her own brand of 178 oz. Mulkey PITA, which is why Baylor ultimately told her to take the LSU job in April 2021.

It’s perfectly reasonable to miss someone who was good for you and drove you half crazy.

It makes perfect sense why Baylor President Linda Livingstone and Baylor Athletic Director Mack Rhoades had had enough.

It’s one thing to sympathize with certain personalities when your sport is a revenue generator. It’s quite a different thing to take a lot of personality from a coach who’s in charge of a sport with no revenue.

It’s a brutal, ugly truth of great collegiate athletics.

BU women’s basketball under Mulkey probably generated more revenue than most women’s college basketball teams and not enough to offset its expenses.

As reasonable as it may be that both parties chose to privately tell the other to go to H, we all in the state lost when Mulkey moved east.

On Tuesday, during a virtual pre-Final Four press conference, I asked Mulkey if there was any emotion at being back at a venue 90 minutes north of her old spot to play in the Final Four.

The story goes on

“You never spend 21 years of your life building a dynasty, and that’s exactly what we did at Baylor. I think we can all agree on that,” she said. “I still have a home there. My grandchildren are here. So my heart will always be there.”

Under Mulkey, Baylor wasn’t quite UConn under Geno Auriemma or Tennessee under Pat Summitt, but it was only a tenth of a peg under those names. Baylor women’s basketball was a national brand.

Before football became a pride under Art Briles, Matt Rhule and Dave Aranda, and men’s basketball under Scott Drew, Baylor had a positive identity under Mulkey.

Building a national name in a non-earning sport in collegiate athletics is almost as difficult as winning a national title in soccer. It might be more difficult.

Baylor won three national titles because of Mulkey and her teams.

“But the timing in my life told me it was time to come back to LSU and put women’s basketball back where it belongs,” she said. “I have lifelong friends there. There will be Baylor people in my department heartbroken that I left. I get it.

“One day when I’m retired I might write another book and have more details, but I love Baylor University, the fans there, the Lady Bear fans there. But it was about time. Timing is everything in life.”

She is right. timing is everything.

A lot of this sounds like spin.

LSU offered a raise, and there were “disagreements” between Mulkey and the government over a number of issues, most notably relating to the new basketball arena.

Baylor could have kept her. It just had to be willing to deal with her.

Much like Florida State did with Jimbo Fisher in 2017, Baylor decided it could live without its national title winner.

“[I]went to Baylor[in 2000]and it wasn’t because Baylor was killing it in women’s basketball. It was the school that got me on the phone at the time in my life when I was ready to take that step,” she said. “LSU got on the phone with me when I was ready to take action.

“You don’t – I don’t know, maybe you can tell me. Can you name a coach in men’s or women’s basketball who did what I did, who left behind a dynasty that was basically theirs? So I didn’t have a blueprint.”

Does not happen often.

“I didn’t have anyone to call,” Mulkey said. “It was my gut instinct and my timing in life that told me this was the right move.”

The move certainly worked for Mulkey and for LSU. It’s too early to tell if it worked for Baylor.

Whatever the specifics of her departure from Baylor for LSU no longer matters. She’s doing in Baton Rouge what she’s been doing in Waco for decades.

Whatever you think of Kim Mulkey, she was good for Baylor.

Even though she can say paragraphs that drive you insane, she’s good for women’s basketball and women’s sports.

She misses sports in Texas.