Kim Mulkey-Brittney Griner controversy, explained: Why LSU coach has anti-LGBTQ reputation

In 2021, the Tigers seized control of LSU and transformed it into a dominant force in the SEC; she guided Baylor to three national championships during her tenure in Waco, and the LSU coach is unquestionably exceptional at strategizing and executing plays.

Mulkey has been a lightning rod for criticism in recent years, with her accolades being diminished. One notable criticism was the lack of public support for former player Griner, who was detained in a Russian prison for nearly 10 months after allegedly having hashish oil in her luggage. Mulkey’s attempts to offer public endorsement to Griner were rebuffed.

ADDITIONAL: Explanation of Brittney Griner’s detainment.

The trainer replied, “And you will not,” prior to diverting the topic when a journalist pointed out during a September 2022 press conference that he did not remember Mulkey voicing her opinion about Griner’s arrest. However, the experienced trainer has not provided substantial backing for the former Bear aside from sporadic prewritten remarks. Griner is recognized as Mulkey’s most renowned protégé.

The Sporting News examines the seemingly deteriorated but promising relationship between Mulkey’s personal opinions and Griner’s.

Since her time in Waco, Griner has encountered a deluge of prejudiced, anti-gay, and sexist mistreatment throughout her journey as a Black homosexual woman. Additionally, she stands out as not only one of the top athletes globally but also as one of the most candid.

She couldn’t truly express herself, at least not verbally or in public. Despite her success on the basketball court, Griner faced challenges in her personal life during that time.

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I feel it much better to say it every single time. I am a strong black lesbian woman, and it feels good to say it. In 2013, Kate Fagan told Griner on ESPN that I couldn’t be fully happy because I wasn’t out all the way when I was at Baylor.

During the NCAA 2012 Tournament, the coach of the Baylor Bears, then-Baylor, outwardly showed support towards Griner, even referring to her as “being” in the midst of all the vitriol she received surrounding the program. However, an article by Fagan highlighted some conflicts between Mulkey and Griner during their days at Baylor.

Griner expressed, “If it appeared as though they endorsed it, individuals would not allow their children to participate in Baylor. The coaches believed it was a recruiting matter. I had no desire to hear ‘No.’ I already had knowledge of the response,” regarding her inquiry to Mulkey about her ability to reveal her true identity.

Mulkey allegedly compelled Griner to don a long-sleeved T-shirt, which concealed her arms and back adorned with vibrant tattoos, offering observers a peek into her true self. Concealing her identity extended beyond just these aspects for Griner.

According to former teammate Brooklyn Pope, “It would have been disapproved of,” Brittney was unable to display those tattoos or speak freely due to the strict environment at Baylor.

Mulkey declined an interview with Fagan for that 2013 story, though she did release a statement praising Griner for her on-court accomplishments.

“Brittney Griner represented Baylor University proudly on and off the basketball court, and she leaves behind an incredible legacy. I cannot comment on personal matters surrounding any of our student-athletes, but I can tell you Brittney will always be a celebrated member of the Baylor family.”

When asked, Zeigler Cyd, the co-founder of Outsports, recoiled when she coached a gay player. Mulkey’s words rang hollow, especially when compared with her other statements she had made in the past.

Outsports: “Have you ever had a gay player on your team?”

Kim Mulkey: “Don’t ask me that. I don’t ask that. I don’t think it’s anybody’s business. Whoever you are. I don’t care to know that.”

Fagan also disclosed that Mulkey attempted to have her fired from ESPN due to her coverage of Griner.

After we put out that story, Kim Mulkey believed that I had forced Brittney Griner to say this, and she told the higher-ups at ESPN that I needed to be fired for this. She called the higher-ups and told them that I should be fired.

Per Griner, felt slightly hollow her defense’s of her standout performance even. There and here provide standard support offered by Mulkey.

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If Mulkey’s comment about protecting Griner made me think of being a human being. We can’t discuss the fact that I’m a lesbian, but we can discuss gender. If you’re up here to protect me, then protect all of me.

Griner has no qualms about becoming the person she has grown into. She serves as a model for millions, both physically and spiritually, advocating for the liberation of sexuality and gender from rigid binaries. However, she is not just hoping to escape the constraints of these binaries, but also aiming for a future induction into the Hall of Fame as a player.

Whether Mulkey comprehends it or not doesn’t alter that fact.

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