Mulkey, who turns 59 next month, replaces Nikki Fargas, who resigned Saturday after going 177-129 in 10 seasons guiding the Tigers. Fargas is reportedly in negotiations to become team president of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. Although LSU made six NCAA tournament appearances under Fargas, it hasn’t gotten past the Sweet 16 since 2008, when it made the last of five straight Final Four appearances.
Mulkey is quite familiar with the deepest rounds of the tournament. Her Bears went all the way in 2005 (beating LSU in the Final Four), 2012 and 2019; only Connecticut (11) and Tennessee (eight) have more than Baylor’s three national titles. The 2012 team, behind Brittney Griner, finished 40-0, and the 2019 team went 37-1.
Mulkey earned $2.27 million annually from Baylor. She is expected to get a raise at LSU, with the Daily Advertiser reporting she will make $2.5 million, putting her on par with Tigers men’s coach Will Wade.
Mulkey’s career record is 632-104, and no other coach in Division I men’s or women’s basketball reached 600 wins as quickly. (She needed just 700 games.) She was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year, and NBA legend Michael Jordan will present her at a ceremony next month.
“Kim Mulkey is a champion and a Hall of Famer, and we are thrilled to welcome her home,” LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward said in a news release announcing the hire. “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.”
In addition to being one of the most prolific coaches in college sports, Mulkey has long been one of the most outspoken. She continued to be so as the NCAA soldiered through a trying season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Mulkey contracted the virus this past winter, which prompted several cancellations or postponements. When she returned in January, she spoke openly about the NCAA valuing money over safety.
“The season will continue on. It’s called the almighty dollar,” Mulkey said. “The NCAA has to have the almighty dollar from the men’s tournament. The almighty dollar is more important than the health and welfare of me, the players or anybody else.”
Baylor reached the Elite Eight, in which it lost a thrilling game to Connecticut, 69-67, in which a debatable no-call in the final seconds irked Mulkey.
“I’ve got still shots and video from two angles. One kid hits her in the face, and one kid hits her on the elbow,” she said after a foul was not called as Baylor’s DiJonai Carrington tried to make a shot that would have put Baylor ahead just before the buzzer.
In that postgame news conference, Mulkey also suggested the NCAA “dump the covid testing” before the Final Four so no players would be disqualified because of the virus.
Mulkey began her coaching career at Louisiana Tech, where she won two national championships as an all-American point guard. She also won a national title as an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech, giving her six in her career.
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