Kim Mulkey, the south Louisiana native who rose from small-town high school star to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, is set to be LSU’s next women’s basketball coach, sources told The Advocate on Sunday.
The school made the hire official later Sunday afternoon.
The only woman to win national titles as a player, assistant and head coach, the 58-year-old Mulkey comes to LSU after 21 seasons at Baylor. She replaces Nikki Fargas, who resigned from LSU to take a front office position with the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
It is a blockbuster hire for LSU and second-year athletic director Scott Woodward, especially after months of scrutiny amid the university's mishandling of multiple cases of sexual misconduct against women. Mulkey is the most accomplished coach ever persuaded to come to LSU in any sport.
Sources said Mulkey met with her Baylor players Sunday afternoon to inform them of her decision. An introductory news conference is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Fans are invited to attend.
Contract details were not immediately available. Mulkey reportedly made $2.27 million per year at Baylor. Fargas made $700,000 per year in her final contract with LSU. Men's basketball coach Will Wade earns $2.5 million per season.
At Baylor, Mulkey compiled a career record of 632-104, an .859 winning percentage. For the past 10 years, Mulkey’s teams have been even better than that, going 334-25 (.930) including a 28-3 record this season with a trip to the NCAA women’s tournament’s Elite Eight. She has the third-best winning percentage in women’s basketball history behind only Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (.885) and former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore (.869), Mulkey’s former coach and mentor.
In February 2020, she became the fastest coach in NCAA Division I history to 600 wins with a 77-62 victory at Texas Tech in her 700th game. In April 2020, Mulkey was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. She will be enshrined May 15, with Michael Jordan as her presenter.
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Appearing April 16 on "The Jordy Culotta Show," Mulkey talked about her roots in Louisiana despite having been gone for more than two decades.
“Louisiana, I’ve said many times, will always, always be my home,” Mulkey said. “It doesn’t matter where my career takes me; you always go back to your roots. My children were born in north Louisiana. My son played right there at LSU. You always listen. You’re always talking to people connected in one way or another to Louisiana.”
Mulkey’s son, Kramer Robertson, played shortstop for LSU from 2014-17. Robertson is currently playing in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Her daughter, Makenzie Robertson Fuller, played for Mulkey at Baylor and is now associate director of operations for women's basketball.
Mulkey said she had opportunities to leave Baylor before but told Culotta that timing was the determining factor in career decisions.
"You don't know what tomorrow brings," she said. "You asked me about the LSU job. Who knows what tomorrow brings?"
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Born in Santa Ana, California, Mulkey grew up in Tickfaw, where a street is named after her: Kim Mulkey Drive. She was the star point guard at Hammond High School, leading the team to four straight state championships, a record of 136-5 and a then-girls high school record 4,075 points. She was also Hammond’s valedictorian with a 4.0 grade-point average.
As a player at Louisiana Tech from 1980-84, Mulkey played on two national championship teams, winning the last AIAW title in 1981 and the first NCAA women's title in 1982. She was also an assistant under Barmore for Tech’s last national championship team in 1988. In between, Mulkey was the point guard on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, helping the Americans win their first women's basketball gold medal under late Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
After 19 years at Tech as a player and assistant, Mulkey left Ruston for Baylor, a program that had only four winning seasons the previous 17 years. But Mulkey immediately turned Baylor around, winning at least 20 games every season, 30 or more games 10 times and reaching the NCAA tournament 19 times. The only years Baylor did not earn an NCAA bid was in her third season, when the Bears reached the WNIT final, and in 2020 when the NCAA tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.
Yes, LSU fans, it's really happening: Kim Mulkey is returning to Louisiana.
Mulkey’s teams won NCAA titles in 2005, beating LSU in the national semifinals, in 2012 with a 40-0 record (a mark tied by UConn in 2014) and in 2019 when Baylor went 37-1. Her teams reached four Final Fours, won a dozen Big 12 regular-season titles (including the past 11 straight) and 11 Big 12 tournament titles.
When Robertson played for the Tigers, Mulkey was often seen in the stands wearing gold.
Now, purple and gold are Mulkey’s colors full-time.