BATON ROUGE, La. — Kim Mulkey sit in her office at Tiger Stadium, surrounded by a few momentos, including one of her favorite baseball player.
She said she got the call from Scott Woodward and spoke to him for ten minutes about the opening at LSU and realized the school’s interest in her was very real.
But, only after they talked contract.
“Still didn’t think anything until they called with numbers. And, I said they are serious about this,” said LSU Women’s Head Basketball Coach Kim Mulkey.
Mulkey said her Mom is here. Her family and friends are here. And, it was time, on the final third of her career to come home to Louisiana.
“This school really wants you. People want you, and if you fall flat on your face, at least you are home,” said Mulkey.
She denied that she clashed with Baylor athletic officials. But, she did not deny that she wanted the new basketball arena for the school built on campus, and not in downtown Waco.
“I still think it is a mistake not to build on campus, but that is not my problem,” said Mulkey.
Kim Mulkey is one of the most competitive people on the planet. She won four state titles at Hammond High School, where she was the school valedictorian.
At Louisiana Tech, she won national titles as coach and assistant. And, she wanted to be the coach there until the school offered a four year contract.
She wanted five. She would not accept anything less.
“Five years would have invested me in the retirement system, and that is why five years was important,” said Mulkey.
She said just like Baylor, LSU women’s basketball will take baby steps. She notes that her first title team at Baylor, the one that defeated LSU at the final four, was not filled with superstars.
“The very championship we won in 2005, we had zero McDonald’s All Americans and blue chip players on that team,” said Mulkey.
Mulkey said she runs a disciplined program, but one that also has fun. Yes, fun.
You would never know that watching the coach, during games.
“I never embarrass my players. Never abuse my players. I make my players think they are better than they are…People think you are so intense and passionate. You don’t have fun. You are this mean spirited person on the sideline and you know what I tell him Ed?I go, shhhh. You know what I tell them? That is my competitive advantage,” said Mulkey.
And, She said she will find a way to see her daughter and grandchildren in Waco.
That’s just who she is.
“My family always come first .. and that will never change,” said Mulkey.
“Kim has no political agenda, no social agenda, she is just the little ole girl from Tangipahoa parish,” said Mulkey.
She has already raised the money to have the LSU women’s office at the athletic building renovated.
The current renovation is only the first of many.
Next up the training room, and she says there are several projects to follow.
She says at Baylor, the school needed a practice facility. They got it.
“Walked into a country club left their with over $3 million dollars,” said Mulkey.
It is, apparently, quite difficult to tell Kim Mulkey no. And, she says striking when the iron is hot, is critical.
“We have to be able to sell this program before it becomes good,” said Mulkey.
I asked Mulkey if she was afraid of anything. Well, no on the court.
“I wouldn’t have come here if I was afraid to fail. I wouldn’t have left Louisiana Tech, for a team that won seven games prior to the year I got there,” said Mulkey.
And, yes to alcohol.
“I have never sipped alcohol in my life. I have put many a drunks to bed, and I have driven many a drunks home. You think about that? I am 59 and I have never had a drink. And, it is not for religious reasons. I am afraid of it,” said Mulkey.
Mulkey said she wants to sell at least 5,000 season tickets her first year and sell out a home game.
LSU basketball, a recent afterthought in the school’s athletic lexicon, is no more