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Kim Mulkey: Legendary Basketball Coach
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14 days ago
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Kim Mulkey is a legendary figure in women's college basketball, renowned for her uncompromising coaching style and unparalleled success on the court.

Trailblazing Player and Scholar

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Kim Mulkey's early life and playing career were marked by exceptional achievements both on and off the court. Born on May 17, 1962, in Santa Ana, California, she grew up in Tickfaw, Louisiana, where her athletic prowess was evident from a young age. At Hammond High School, Mulkey led the basketball team to four consecutive state championships, amassing an impressive record of 136-5 and setting a then-national record of 4,075 career points. Her academic excellence was equally remarkable, as she graduated as her class valedictorian with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Mulkey's collegiate career at Louisiana Tech University was nothing short of extraordinary. As an All-American point guard, she guided the Lady Techsters to two national championships, winning the AIAW title in 1981 and the inaugural NCAA championship in 1982. Her exceptional playmaking abilities and leadership on the court earned her the distinction of being the first recipient of the prestigious Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award in 1984, recognizing her as the nation's top college senior under 5-6 (1.68 m). Mulkey's accomplishments as a player laid the foundation for her future success as a coach, instilling in her the winning mentality and competitive drive that would become hallmarks of her coaching philosophy.
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Coaching Dominance Across Programs

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After an illustrious playing career at Louisiana Tech, Mulkey began her coaching journey at her alma mater, serving as an assistant coach from 1985 to 1996 and associate head coach from 1996 to 2000. During this period, the Lady Techsters won the 1988 NCAA national championship and made multiple Final Four appearances. In 2000, Mulkey was hired as the head coach at Baylor University, inheriting a program that had won just 7 games the previous season. She quickly turned the Bears into a powerhouse, leading them to 3 NCAA titles in 2005, 2012, and 2019, while dominating the Big 12 conference with 21 regular season and tournament championships. In 2021, Mulkey returned to her home state of Louisiana, taking over as head coach at LSU. In just her second season, she guided the Tigers to an improbable national championship in 2023, becoming the first coach in NCAA history to win titles with two different programs. Mulkey's coaching career has been defined by sustained excellence, with a combined 721 wins and 4 national titles across her stints at Louisiana Tech, Baylor, and LSU.
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Coaching Records by Season

Here is a table summarizing Kim Mulkey's coaching stats per season:
SeasonTeamRecordConference RecordConference FinishPostseason
2022-23LSU34-216-0 (SEC)1stNCAA Champions
2021-22LSU26-613-3 (SEC)T-2ndNCAA Second Round
2020-21Baylor28-314-2 (Big 12)T-1stNCAA Elite Eight
2019-20Baylor28-217-1 (Big 12)1stSeason Cancelled (COVID-19)
2018-19Baylor37-118-0 (Big 12)1stNCAA Champions
2017-18Baylor33-416-2 (Big 12)T-1stNCAA Sweet Sixteen
2016-17Baylor33-416-2 (Big 12)T-1stNCAA Elite Eight
2015-16Baylor36-216-2 (Big 12)T-1stNCAA Elite Eight
2014-15Baylor33-416-2 (Big 12)T-1stNCAA Elite Eight
2013-14Baylor32-516-2 (Big 12)T-1stNCAA Elite Eight
2012-13Baylor35-218-0 (Big 12)1stNCAA Sweet Sixteen
2011-12Baylor40-018-0 (Big 12)1stNCAA Champions
2010-11Baylor34-315-1 (Big 12)1stNCAA Elite Eight
2009-10Baylor27-1010-6 (Big 12)T-4thNCAA Sweet Sixteen
2008-09Baylor29-611-5 (Big 12)T-3rdNCAA Sweet Sixteen
2007-08Baylor25-811-5 (Big 12)T-3rdNCAA Sweet Sixteen
2006-07Baylor26-910-6 (Big 12)T-4thNCAA Sweet Sixteen
2005-06Baylor26-712-4 (Big 12)T-2ndNCAA Sweet Sixteen
2004-05Baylor33-315-1 (Big 12)1stNCAA Champions
2003-04Baylor26-910-6 (Big 12)T-4thWNIT Champions
2002-03Baylor25-910-6 (Big 12)T-4thWNIT Semifinals
2001-02Baylor21-910-6 (Big 12)T-4thNCAA First Round
2000-01Baylor21-910-6 (Big 12)T-4thNCAA First Round
Sources: , , , , This table provides an overview of Mulkey's season-by-season coaching records at Baylor and LSU, including overall and conference records, conference finishes, and postseason results. It highlights her sustained excellence, with multiple conference titles, deep NCAA Tournament runs, and 4 national championships.
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Prestigious Accolades and Honors

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Kim Mulkey's achievements and honors are a testament to her unparalleled success as a coach and player. She has been inducted into multiple prestigious halls of fame, including the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020, cementing her legacy as one of the greatest figures in the sport. Mulkey has been recognized as the National Coach of the Year on eight occasions by various entities, including the Associated Press, WBCA, and USBWA. She has also been named the Big 12 Coach of the Year eight times, reflecting her dominance in the conference during her tenure at Baylor. Additionally, Mulkey has received the New York Athletic Club's Winged Foot Award after each of her national championship victories as a head coach, honoring her outstanding achievements.
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Controversial Incidents and Backlash

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One of the most significant controversies involving Mulkey stems from her relationship with former Baylor player Brittney Griner. In 2013, Griner revealed that Mulkey had advised players to keep their sexuality private, as the coaches feared it could hurt recruiting and the program's image. Griner stated, "It was a recruiting thing. The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids come play for Baylor." This revelation sparked criticism of Mulkey's stance on LGBTQ+ issues. Mulkey has also faced scrutiny from the media on multiple occasions. In March 2023, she criticized a Los Angeles Times column about her fashion choices as "sexist" and threatened legal action. More recently, in March 2024, Mulkey threatened to sue The Washington Post over what she called a forthcoming "hit piece," alleging the reporter had attempted to "trick" former coaches into providing negative information about her. These incidents have further fueled controversy surrounding Mulkey's confrontational approach towards media criticism.
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Relationship with Players

Kim Mulkey's relationships with her players have often been complex and controversial. While she has guided many to remarkable success, some former players have alleged that Mulkey used intimidation tactics and public shaming to motivate them. Kelli Griffin, who played for Mulkey at Baylor from 2007 to 2010, stated that the coach "made my life hell" by drawing attention to her wardrobe choices. Griffin believes she was suspended due to Mulkey discovering she was gay, ultimately ending her basketball career. However, Mulkey's attorneys denied treating gay players differently. Brittney Griner, one of Mulkey's most accomplished players at Baylor, wrote in her memoir that Mulkey encouraged players to "keep your business behind closed doors." Griner did not come out until after leaving Baylor, but claimed Mulkey often attributed her personal issues to "girlfriend problems." Their relationship became strained, with Mulkey refusing to publicly support Griner during her detainment in Russia. More recently, Mulkey's relationship with LSU star Angel Reese has been scrutinized, with Reese being benched and left off the team for unexplained reasons, fueling speculation of a conflict between the two.
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Coaching Philosophy

Mulkey's coaching philosophy centers around passion, honesty, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. She demands maximum effort and intensity from her players at all times, whether in practice or games, regardless of the score.
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Mulkey believes that nothing great can be achieved without enthusiasm, and she aims to instill that mindset in her teams.
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Her coaching approach is rooted in her own experiences as an elite player, allowing her to connect with and motivate her athletes by drawing from her personal journey.
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Personal Life

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sportskeeda.com
Kim Mulkey's personal life has been intertwined with her coaching career. In 1987, she married Randy Robertson, whom she met at Louisiana Tech where he was the starting quarterback. They have two children together - son Kramer, a professional baseball player and collegiate All-American at Louisiana State University, and daughter Makenzie, who played both basketball and softball at Baylor and later worked in basketball operations for the program. Mulkey and Robertson divorced in 2006. Mulkey is known for her exuberant fashion worn during games, often donning outfits inspired by Louisiana culture and designed by local brands like Queen of Sparkles. Her vibrant and unique style, featuring sequins, feathers, and bold prints, has become a signature part of her persona. Mulkey's fashion choices reflect her confident and unapologetic personality, making her a trendsetter in the world of women's basketball.
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Legacy and Impact

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texasmonthly.com
Kim Mulkey's legacy and impact on women's basketball are profound and far-reaching. She is celebrated as the first person in history to win national championships as a player, assistant coach, and head coach, a remarkable feat that underscores her unparalleled success at every level of the game. Mulkey's contributions have transcended the court, inspiring generations of players and coaches with her unwavering passion, intensity, and commitment to excellence. Mulkey's fiery and motivational coaching style has been a hallmark of her career. Her ability to instill a relentless competitive spirit and unwavering belief in her teams has driven them to achieve greatness time and again. Mulkey's demanding yet nurturing approach has pushed her players to reach their full potential, fostering a culture of accountability and resilience that has become synonymous with her programs. Beyond her on-court accomplishments, Mulkey's impact extends to the broader landscape of women's athletics. Her unapologetic confidence and refusal to conform to traditional coaching norms have challenged societal perceptions and paved the way for future generations of female coaches and leaders. Mulkey's unwavering advocacy for the growth and recognition of women's basketball has elevated the sport's profile and inspired countless young athletes to pursue their dreams.
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