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‘It’s good to be back home,’ Mulkey tells cheering LSU crowd

Published: Apr. 25, 2021 at 4:54 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KWTX) - Kim Mulkey, who led the Lady Bears to three national championships and a total of 23 regular season and tournament conference championships, told a crowd of Louisiana State University supporters including the state’s governor, John Bel Edwards, “it’s good to be back home” as she was formally introduced Monday evening as the next head coach of the Lady Tigers.

I’ve been at Baylor for 21 years of my life,” Mulkey told the crowd. “We built that program from the ground up.”

“Can you believe there’s only one institution I would have left for and they made the commitment and I’m home” she said.

Mulkey succeeds Nikki Fargas, who resigned last week after 10 years at LSU, where she was 177-129 with five 20-season wins and six appearances in the NCAA tournament.

“It’s not every day you get to hire a champion, and that is what Kim is,” LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said as he introduced Mulkey.

“She’s the most passionate coach in the country, she’s the most authentic coach in the country,” he said.

“She has a championship mentality in everything she does.”

Mulkey was greeted with a standing ovation as she rose to address the crowd.

She was wearing a face mask as she stepped up to the microphone, but removed it, saying “I’m gonna taken this damn mask off because I have a lot to say.”

“I had many opportunities to leave (Baylor),” she said.

“This is the only one that can get me to leave. Thank you again for bringing me back home.”

“I came here to make an impact at the right time at an institution that needs something really positive.”

Championships don’t happen overnight, Mulkey said, “but I can assure you that’s what I came here to do.”

Mulkey is no stranger to LSU and its athletic staff.

Her son Kramer was standout player on the school’s baseball team.

Her voice broke as she thanked the team’s coach, Paul Mainieri, for turning her “cocky boy into a man”

Mulkey’s son, daughter, son-in-law, grandson and mother were there for the introduction.

So were the five members of Mulkey’s Baylor staff she’s taking with her to Baton Rouge, including Johnny Derrick, who was assistant athletic director/operations in Waco; Jennifer Roberts, her coordinator of operations; Jordin Westbrook, her associate director of operations; Kaylin Rice, an assistant coach, and Daphne Mitchell, her assistant coordinator of recruiting and operations.

Mulkey boarded a private jet Monday morning at McGregor Executive Airport for a flight to Baton Rouge.

“Gonna miss Waco. Gonna miss the fans. But I’m going home,” she said.

LSU officials and coaches, and the school’s mascot, greeted Mulkey after the jet landed.

Kim Mulkey (far left) embraced LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri after arriving in Baton Rouge.
Kim Mulkey (far left) embraced LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri after arriving in Baton Rouge.(Matt Williams, WAFB)

Mulkey met Sunday with members of her team to inform them she was leaving.

LSU Women’s Basketball later tweeted out confirmation of her hire.

Mulkey, a Louisiana native, was a two-time national champion as a player at Louisiana Tech and gold medal Olympian in 1984 before becoming an assistant coach and then associate Head coach at her alma mater.

In 2000 she was named the head coach of the Baylor Lady Bears. In her first season with the Lady Bears, she led the team to the NCAA Tournament.

During the 2004-05 season, Mulkey took the Lady Bears to new heights, winning Baylor’s first Big 12 title and first National Championship.

Under Mulkey, the Lady Bears would go on to win 12 Big 12 titles including 11 straight from 2010 to 2021.

In 2012, Mulkey made NCAA history by leading the Lady Bears to a perfect 40–0 season, the most wins in a season in college basketball history, men or women.

In a joint statement released by Athletic Director Mack Rhoades and Baylor University President Dr. Linda Livingstone, Rhoades stated the University was grateful for Mulkey’s dedication and accomplishments.

“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. Coach Mulkey’s sustained success is one of the most remarkable runs in college basketball history, and her accomplishments are worthy of the Naismith Hall of Fame induction she’ll experience later this year.....We have launched a national search for our next head coach, and we will not make any comments on prospective candidates or where we are in the process until we are ready to introduce the next Baylor Women’s Basketball head coach.”

With her third championship win, Mulkey joined Geno Auriemma and Pat Summit as the only women’s basketball coaches to win three or more NCAA Division 1 National Championships.

She will leave Baylor as the all-time winningest coach in school history.

Mulkey was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020 and is scheduled to be introduced by Michael Jordan at the upcoming ceremony.

In 2000 Mulkey was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame for her accomplishments as a player.

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