Kim Mulkey admits to poor word choice but her now viral post-game rant spoke for her employer, and their legions of loyal supporters, and it’s clear she meant the crux of her complaint.
The Baylor women’s basketball coach is historically unafraid of her opinions (God love her for it), and it was just as well Mulkey let it out to just to get it out. Best not to hold these things in. She is the only Baylor person who can say this with impunity ... or at least some.
On Saturday after Baylor won yet another Big 12 title, Mulkey crammed both feet and her hands in her mouth when she told an adoring audience at The Ferrell Center, “If somebody is around you and they ever say ‘I will never send my daughter to Baylor,’ you knock them right in the face.”
That sounds about just like Kim Mulkey. She got it out; the only surprise is there were no four-letter words to go with her hyperbole. She spoke for Baylor nation when she popped at the endless cycle of negative attention that began well over one year ago. Her school is under attack and they are all sick of it.
Any Baylor grad/employee/student who had zero role in this fiasco would be justifiably exhausted.
Now she and Baylor simply need to shut up. They didn’t ask for this, but they are going to have to deal with it. Just as the school cannot dictate the wave of positive notoriety when things go well for the basketball teams or the football team, it has zero say when it flows the other way.
In these situations, you never pick a fight or wave your finger. You just deal with it.
Baylor could have used Mulkey’s voice as a credentialed-advocate for the type of change it has spent millions on at the school; but, like everything else, it moved in fear and told her to shut it, while everything ran through the narrow funnel of old white men for approval.
Mulkey has been at Baylor since 2000 and in that time she has built a national power and brand in her sport. She has been a tremendous advocate for young women and females in sports. As a woman she would never condone, or remotely sign off, on how her employer embarrassed itself and its name in a rape scandal that figures to end sometime by 2088.
Do you think Mulkey does not grasp the enormity of this situation, or has not been privy to private emails and God knows how many long-winded meetings? This is not a dumb woman; she knows her school stepped in it.
After Mulkey was roasted nationally for her rant, she spoke to ESPN and came close to a 180. Of course the “knock ‘em right in the face” was not literal, nor should it have been ever construed as such, and she is not a fan of what happened at her school.
She wants everyone to move on, but what she doesn’t understand is that it’s not her call.
“My point was, ‘Please don’t paint, with a broad brush, the women at Baylor,’” Mulkey told ESPN. “I didn’t think about what I was going to say. I looked at my players, and the little girls and the women who are cheering for them. And I spoke with a lot of emotion.”
Aside from the victims, no one has painted the women at Baylor with a broad brush; the paint job depicts leadership who knowingly compromised their mission and enjoyed an extended period of denial while many of their customers, i.e. students, were ignored and hurt.
No one is saying, or would say, Mulkey has had any role in this prolonged bout of ignorance. Because she doesn’t.
She had no say in the matter, and accordingly no one has remotely held her accountable. No women’s basketball coach has that much influence in their athletic department; the only exception might be UConn’s Geno Auriemma, but he is likely further down the food chain than he would want to admit.
That’s not an indictment on women’s sports, or their coaches. It’s a reality of non-revenue sports in college athletic departments.
While Mulkey may not have a big voice in Baylor’s room, what she does have is tenure and cache. No one at Baylor would not respect her, or ignore her voice. She’s been around, and she’s won. People with tenure, especially at universities, are respected. She has credibility.
Nothing she said on Saturday after the game should damage her credibility or well-earned good standing. Was her rant well stated? No.
But it was honest and she got it off her chest both for herself, and now her school. Now they just need to shutup and return to dealing with it.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.