What Washington Post reported about Kim Mulkey, LSU women's basketball coach

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Washington Post published a story about Kim Mulkey a few hours prior to Mulkey and LSU women's basketball playing in the Sweet 16 against UCLA inside the MVP Arena in March Madness.

In a lengthy profile piece spanning Mulkey's life as a young girl in Tangipahoa Parish and her 40-year coaching career, The Post sports features reporter Kent Babb highlighted Mulkey's march to becoming one of women's basketball's "best motivators and teachers any sports has seen," he wrote.

The story featured a theme of Mulkey doing whatever it takes to win in the article titled "The Kim Mulkey Way: The LSU coach holds grudges, battles everyone — and keeps winnings. But at what cost?"

The story paints Mulkey as a coach who holds grudges, has had contentious relationships with some former players and is accused by some former players of treating gay players differently, especially during her time at Baylor, a school affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas that has policies that condemn extramarital sex and define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

What Washington Post Kim Mulkey story said

For the story, The Washington Post spoke with several of Mulkey's former players, mostly from her 20 years at Baylor, as well as Sonja Hogg, who coached Mulkey at Louisiana Tech, and a couple of Mulkey's former assistant coaches. Former Texas A&M women's basketball coach Gary Blair is also quoted in the article, saying, "She doesn't care about winning the popularity contest among coaches."

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The story touches on her playing days at Louisiana Tech, helping lead the Lady Techsters to two national championships and a 130-6 overall record as a point guard, and Hogg saying "she wants perfection. That's what she was always seeking."

The piece focuses a lot on her time as head coach at Baylor and "the weeding-out process" after Mulkey was hired at the school with how the coach handled conditioning and the standard she held her players, "using structured failure to push beyond physical and emotional barriers."

Alleged disloyalty is another theme, bringing up examples with her ex-husband Randy Robertson, former Louisiana Tech President Daniel Reneau, who wouldn't offer Mulkey more than a three-year deal when she wanted to succeed legendary coach Leon Barmore after the 1998-99 season, her father Les Mulkey, as well as several former players.

The Washington Post writes Kim Mulkey holds grudges

According to The Washington Post's story, Mulkey hasn't spoken to her father or sister in a number of years.

As she wrote about in her memoir "Won't Back Down" that published back in 2007, she said her estrangement to her father was due to his infidelity to her mother, Dru. "His unfaithfulness to my mother devastated our entire family."

Les attempted to talk with Kim before her marriage to Robertson, but she didn't budge and walked down the aisle alone, The Post writes that the two have not spoken since.

When Niemann returned to Waco in 2016 as the 2005 team was being celebrated for the NCAA championship it won, she reportedly approached Mulkey to thank her for the impact she made on her life and that she was apologetic for how things ended.

"Niemann said Mulkey said nothing and walked away. 'There was just nothing there,' (Niemann says). 'There was no warmth. There was no nothing.'"

Washington Post alleges Kim Mulkey treated gay players at Baylor differently

Mulkey and former Baylor star center Brittney Griner's estranged relationship has been well-documented. But The Washington Post spoke with a few other Baylor players, who spoke about their treatment from Mulkey while playing for her.

Niemann mentioned being "summoned" to Mulkey's office after she had been "seen around Waco with a woman, and people has begun murmuring about her sexuality."

'"It's not a good look,'" Mulkey allegedly told Niemann, advising her "to be careful because the program would be watching."

Baylor is a Baptist school with policies that define marriage between a man and woman and prohibit extramarital sex.

Kelli Griffin came out as gay in high school but wanted to play for Mulkey in college, The Post wrote. Soon after arriving on campus, the story alleges, Mulkey began asking her "why she dressed like a boy: baggy jeans, basketball shorts, sweats. A lady, Griffin say the coach told her, wears a dress."

Griffin recalled thinking "Okay, this lady might not like gay people," she is quoted as saying.

Kim Mulkey accused of holding harsh practices, belittling personal conduct by some former players, The Washington Post writes

Mulkey also allegedly pushed Baylor players physically and emotionally with quips on not only how they dressed, but their weight and hair color, the story says.

“'She hates my different hair colors,' former Bears guard DiDi Richards says in the story. ‘Why is your hair purple? Are you going to wear them two ponytails? If you would change the color, she’d go, ‘You and these damn colors.’”

The comments came from a place of affection, Richards told The Post.

Mulkey is alleged in the story to have brought up former Baylor player Emily Niemann's vertical jump of "13 inches" in front of the team in 2003, with Niemann saying the comments sometimes felt like a joke and other times she felt humiliated. Mulkey, the story says, also held weigh-ins that made players step on the scales in front of their teammates.

The Washington Post said that Mulkey’s attorneys said the comments were “good-natured banter, as often happens on and around the court.”

While at Baylor, The Washington Post reportedly that Mulkey "called out players if they gained weight, instructing the team's strength and conditioning coach to conduct weigh-ins in front of the team."

Niemann and "multiple other former players" were attributed to saying that "shame was a frequent tool in Mulkey's coaching arsenal, whether during practice drills or in addresses to the team" and The Post wrote that some of the former players requested anonymity due to "fears of retaliation in the close-knit women's basketball community."

Kim Mulkey threatened to sue The Washington Post if it 'published false story about me'

The Washington Post reached out to Mulkey "with more than two dozen questions, demanding a response by Thursday right before we're scheduled to tip off," Mulkey said last Saturday. "Are you kidding me? This was a ridiculous deadline that LSU and I could not possibly meet, and the reporter knew it."

The coach also said the reporter had sought a sit-down interview with her for two years.

Mulkey has taken exception with the news organizations' reporting "tactics" as she called into question the way the The Post reached former coaches and players of hers for participation in the piece. Mulkey alleges The Post has called "former disgruntled players to get negative quotes to include in their story."

"Former players have told me that The Washington Post has contacted them and offered to let them be anonymous in a story if they'll say negative things about me," she said. "... They're ignoring the 40-plus years of positive stories that people — or they have heard from people about me."

Mulkey went on the offensive before her team played Middle Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament with a news conference opening statement that ran nearly four minutes in length, in which she said she would take legal action if the story contained any falsehoods about her.

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"I'm fed up, and I'm not going to let The Washington Post attack this university, this awesome team of young women I have, or me without a fight. 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.

"Not many people are in a position to hold these kinds of journalists accountable, but I am, and I'll do it."

Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at bdiaz@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: What Washington Post Kim Mulkey story said