LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey became the main character of March Madness yet again


LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey became the main character of March Madness yet again, briefly taking over the spotlight this weekend to complain about a forthcoming Washington Post story. In a press conference Saturday, Mulkey called the still-unpublished story a “hit piece” and complained that the writer had contacted her former players and coaches and given her a two-day window for comment during the first week of March Madness.

She said an old story about LSU’s football coach was why she wouldn’t answer his questions.

“I told this reporter two years ago that I didn’t appreciate the hit job he wrote on Brian Kelly, and that’s why I wasn’t going to do an interview with him,” Mulkey said.

The reporter, Kent Babb, wrote a 2022 story for the Post headlined “In Baton Rouge, there’s a $100 million football coach and everyone else.” The piece describes the socioeconomic factors at play in Baton Rouge, including the low pay for others at the university. The article details how the stadium sits in a lower-income, largely Black neighborhood. While Kelly makes $24,657 per day, the median household income of people living in the district near the stadium is $24,865 per year, according to the story.

The story includes a handful of other mentions of Kelly, like when he met the central character, a poorly paid graduate student and university employee, and his cringe-worthy attempt at a Southern accent. Babb did not run a hit piece on Kelly, but rather used his salary to frame a story about socioeconomic inequality in Louisiana. The story could’ve been written about whoever was the football coach.

Babb has confirmed he is writing a piece on Mulkey, but he has not commented publicly other than a Saturday tweet linking to the Kelly story with “Hit piece?”

Mulkey’s defensive stance raises questions about what she’s anticipating in the upcoming story. If the Post gave the coach more than a dozen questions, as she claimed in the press conference, she likely has a sense of what’s included in the story.

Mulkey has long clashed with perceived enemies. She was suspended in the 2013 NCAA tournament for comments about officials and suggested in ’21 that the tournament drop COVID-19 testing.

She’s also had a strained relationship with some of her former players: The coach was silent about the extended detention of her former player Brittney Griner, who once said Mulkey discouraged the team from discussing their sexuality.

“I’ve hired the best defamation law firm in the country, and I will sue The Washington Post if they publish a false story about me,” Mulkey said over the weekend. LSU officials could not specify which firm Mulkey had hired but told Front Office Sports that Mulkey was paying for her own attorneys.

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