BATON ROUGE – The Pete Maravich Assembly Center was alive and joyous on Monday, as members of the Louisiana State University board and Gov. John Bel Edwards were on hand to welcome the newest addition to the school: women’s basketball coach and soon-to-be Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Kim Mulkey.
Mulkey, who was announced yesterday as the new head coach after making a shocking exit from Baylor University, was welcomed to massive fanfare as she made her way back to her home state where she made history at Louisiana Tech as a player and assistant coach. Mulkey took over for Nikki Fargas, who had stepped down after 10 seasons as the school’s head coach to pursue new opportunities. It is reported that Fargas is in negotiations to become the new team president for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
In the opening statement for the press conference, LSU interim president Thomas C. Galligan, Jr. was ecstatic as he welcomed everyone to this major turning point in LSU women’s basketball history.
“Coach Mulkey needs no introduction, she’s one of a kind,” Galligan glowed. “A three-time national champion as a head coach, two-time national champion as a player and a member of nine halls of fame, and she will be inducted by Michael Jordan into the Naismith Hall of Fame next month. She has demonstrated throughout her career the ability of athletics to advance and unite the entire institution. She will be a valuable asset to LSU through the pride she displays and the standards she sets on the court and just as importantly, off the court. Coach Mulkey represents the very best of Louisiana and we are fired up to welcome her back to her home state and to LSU.”
After a rousing applause and another thunderous introduction by members of the athletic department, Mulkey took the stand and made sure to let the school and its fans know just how much this moment meant to her.
“Well, I’ma take this damn mask off, because I have a lot to say,” Mulkey started off to a big pop. “First of all, Kramer’s (Kramer Robertson, former LSU baseball player) mom has come home. I would like to thank the administration at LSU, while I don’t know all of you personally, for making this happen. This doesn’t happen with just a phone call. It takes a lot of people pulling a lot of strings and making a commitment to women’s basketball. I’ve been at Baylor 21 years, I built that program from the ground up – I should say 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.”
In regards to we, Mulkey was mentioning her coaching staff, as most of her staff from Baylor will be joining her on the road to Baton Rouge. Mulkey mentioned during the presser that it took a 10-minute phone call from the athletic director, Scott Woodward, to convince her to take the job. She also made sure to thank his staff as they walked her through the particulars in regards to contract negotiations. Mulkey is set to make the same amount as men’s basketball head coach Will Wade ($2.5 million/yr) and will also be able to pay her assistants nearly $500,000/yr – which had to be alluring for a coach who wants to attract high-caliber talent with high-caliber coaching.
In an emphatic part of the conference, she asked the current women’s team to stand up and be recognized while asking them to look up at the rafters.
“I want you to see those banners behind you right there,” Mulkey told the players. “Final Four, Final Four, Final Four. Nowhere on there does it say national champion. That’s what I came here to do.”
“In talking about national championships, it doesn’t happen overnight. Let me remind you rabid LSU fans, they can be crazy and want coaches fired tomorrow…give it time. But I can assure you that’s what I came here to do.”
Speaking of Jordan, Mulkey leaves Baylor with a Hall-of-Fame-sized hole in their coaching ranks. Before Mulkey’s arrival in 2000, the women’s basketball team had never reached the NCAA Tournament. In the 21 years that Mulkey coached the team, they only missed the tournament once, won three national titles (2005, 2012 and 2019) and won 12 Big 12 titles (11 tournament titles) while accumulating a 632-104 record. In Fargas’ 10 seasons with LSU, they only made the Sweet 16 twice and has only finished better than fourth in the SEC three times.
Before joining The Ball Out, Chris Bullock was part of SB Nation’s Swish Appeal for nearly three years, covering everything women’s basketball. Chris has had the honor of doing live coverage of the WNBA Finals, the NCAA Tournament, and also was given his own column, “The Triple Double”. A self-described “foodaholic”, Chris lives in the San Diego area with his wife and two daughters, and also hosts his own podcast, “Conscious Cravings”, where he speaks about his experience as a mental health advocate.