April 25, 2021
Kim Mulkey departs Baylor for LSU
Mulkey is bound for Baton Rouge after 21 years in Waco
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After rampant speculation, three-time national champion Kim Mulkey will leave Baylor to fill the head coaching position at LSU, according to a release from the LSU Athletic Department and reported minutes earlier by Kurtis Quillin of KCEN News.
Mulkey had a longstanding grip on the top of the conference, leading Baylor to 11 straight Big 12 titles and accumulating eight Big 12 Coach of the Year awards. The move projects to drastically shake up the power structure in the Big 12 and SEC, making way for Texas, Iowa State and West Virginia to potentially capture their first regular-season titles in over a decade.
The Lady Bears qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 19 of Mulkey’s 20 years, which included winning 12 straight Sweet 16 appearances and three NCAA championships in 2005, 2012 and 2019. Mulkey was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.
LSU, meanwhile, finished 9-13 this past season and have not won a regular-season conference championship since 2008. The Tigers last reached the Sweet 16 in the 2013-14 season.
“We are grateful for the more than two decades Kim Mulkey poured into building Baylor women’s basketball to one of the nation’s premier programs,” said Baylor Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades in a statement.
Earlier this week, both Mulkey and Rhodes gave non-denials when asked if she was headed to LSU. Baylor has launched a national search to replace Mulkey, and Rhodes said the school will not comment on the search until a decision is made.
Sytia Messer, an assistant coach at Baylor, is likely an internal name that will garner consideration for the position. She has predominantly coached guards at Baylor since joining the staff in 2013, has head coaching experience from her time at Tennessee Tech and is highly respected by players within the program.
Mulkey met with the Baylor roster Sunday afternoon to inform them of her decision, according to Quillin. In the wake of the announcement, standout forward NaLyssa Smith didn’t hold back her opinions of the move on Twitter.
Glenn Guilbeau of the Advertiser reported that Mulkey will likely be paid “about $2.5 million in total package at LSU.” This would exceed her reported $2.27 million salary at Baylor, and far surpass former LSU head coach Nikki Fargas’ $700,000 salary.
It’s hard to overstate the seismic nature of this move, particularly in the wake of Baylor playing for a national championship just weeks ago. Mulkey spent more than two decades coaching the Bears, but in the end, Louisiana — where she played college basketball at Louisiana Tech and where she won her first national title as a coach — called her home.
“Kim Mulkey is a champion and a Hall of Famer, and we are thrilled to welcome her home,” said Scott Woodward, LSU’s athletic director. “Her accomplishments are unprecedented, her passion is unrivaled, and her commitment to winning in all aspects of life – in the classroom, on the court, and in the community – is unparalleled. We look forward to working with her as she instills that championship culture at LSU.”
Mulkey will be introduced at a press conference on Monday at 5 p.m. CT.