A few days after Kim Mulkey talked with athletic director Scott Woodward about taking the LSU women's basketball job, the university sent Mulkey an offer.
The longtime Baylor coach, winner of three national championships in 21 seasons mulled her choices as she spoke to her family.
“Something felt right here,” Mulkey said. “And it just was icing on the cake that it was LSU. I would not have left Baylor for any other school except LSU.”
Mulkey decided Sunday afternoon to accept the position, leaving a school she built into a national powerhouse.
LSU has not yet made contract terms public, but sources have told The Advocate she will make about $2.5 million in her first season. It is roughly the same amount as men’s basketball coach Will Wade, but more than three times the $700,000 annual salary that Nikki Fargas, the previous women's coach, made in her final contract with LSU.
“Yes, it did take some money to get me away from Baylor,” Mulkey said, “but that wasn’t the deciding factor.”
After saying goodbye to her players at Baylor, Mulkey arrived with her family Monday morning on a private plane. She toured LSU’s facilities throughout the day until the introductory event.
“I think it's something that probably is really going to rejuvenate her at this point in her career,” said LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri, who coached Mulkey’s son, former shortstop Kramer Robertson, and greeted her at the airport. “I read her bio yesterday. It made me dizzy, her accomplishments. They made me look like a Little Leaguer compared to my bio. I've never seen anybody have so much success in a career.”
The idea of returning to her roots tugged on Mulkey, who grew up in Tickfaw. She had always called Louisiana home despite spending 21 years at Baylor. Her mother still lived in Tangipahoa Parish. She struggled to sleep as she contemplated the move.
“When your heart is invested in something so intently and so passionately, it's hard to let go,” Mulkey said. “But yet when your heart also says it's time to move on and accept your next challenge and it's at home, it just kept weighing on me.”
Scott Rabalais and Wilson Alexander contributed to this report.