Kim Mulkey, the newly hired coach of LSU women's hoops, defended Baylor in 2017 as it dealt with a massive sexual assault and Title IX scandal. She later retracted the statement and apologized.
"If somebody's around you, and they ever say, 'I will never send my daughter to Baylor,' you knock them right in the face," Mulkey said at center court after earning her 500th win as coach of the Bears.
"Because these kids are on this campus. I work here," she said. "My daughter went to school here, and it's the best damn school in America."
The scandal at Baylor took off in 2015, when multiple football players faced accusations of sexual assault. Two were convicted of the crime, and two more were indicted. Between 2011 and 2015, at least 19 — and as many as 31 — players were accused of sexual assault and gang rapes.
An independent probe by a law firm found "institutional failure at every level," as some top university employees failed to report cases, and others tried to stop complainants from reporting. Baylor's head football coach, athletic director, university president and Title IX coordinator resigned amid the scandal.
"I'm tired of people talking on it on a national scale that don't know what they're talking about," Mulkey said in a post-game press conference after her initial remarks. "If they didn't sit in those meetings, and they weren't a part of the investigation, you're repeating things that you heard. It's over. It's done."
"This is a great institution," she continued. "The problems that we have at Baylor are no different than the problems at any other school in America. Period. Move on. Find another story to write."
Mulkey walked back her comments the next day.
"I hate that I used the remark about punching them in the face," Mulkey told to espnW. "That was not literal. I was trying to make a point, to be firm in what you are saying back at them. I'm not a violent person. I apologize for the very poor choice of words."
Mulkey said she didn't think before she spoke. Her larger point, she said, was that Baylor shouldn't be "painted with a broad brush."
"Not only do I sympathize with victims," she said. "I am angry about the way victims were treated at this university. It is horrible, horrible anytime someone does not take care of a victim. Even one sexual assault is too many. Nobody is dismissing what happened here. I want us to get to the bottom of it."
LSU hired Mulkey at an impasse in its own Title IX scandal.
LSU recently terminated a relationship that dates back 80 years with the law firm Taylor Porter. The school recently banned Executive Deputy AD Verge Ausberry from attending football games in 2021. The university also announced it was disassociating from Derrius Guice and removing his stats and records from the books.
University counsel is blocking all employees from testifying or speaking publicly about the scandal, due to the status of athletic administrator Sharon Lewis' $50 million lawsuit against the school. Lewis told USA Today that several senior university officials tormented her, discriminated against her based on her sex and race, underpaid her and retaliated against her when she tried to cry foul of LSU's Title IX practices.
Mulkey is a native of Tickfaw, Louisiana. She played and coached at Louisiana Tech, where her teams appeared in in 11 Final Fours and won three national championships. She won three national championships in her 20 years coaching the Baylor Bears.
Mulkey's new gig would presumably come with a raise from her $2.27 million yearly salary at Baylor. Her predecessor, Nikki Fargas, who resigned to pursue other opportunities, earned $700,000 yearly. Will Wade, the men's hoops coach, makes $2.5 million annually.
“Kim Mulkey is a champion and a Hall of Famer, and we are thrilled to welcome her home," LSU AD Scott Woodward said in a statement. “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.”