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Mark Kellogg clarifies comments made about Iowa star Caitlin Clark

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It was meant as a rah-rah moment, and certainly not supposed to be seen as a harmful one, when West Virginia women's basketball coach Mark Kellogg picked up that microphone late Sunday night.

His Mountaineers had just been announced as an at-large team in the NCAA tournament, playing in the same region as Iowa and Hawkeyes superstar Caitlin Clark.

Surrounded by hundreds of followers who were watching the selection show with the team, Kellogg addressed the fans with this:

"Let's win one and then send Caitlin Clark packing."

Someone — or maybe several people — recorded it, put it out on social media, and before Kellogg even knew what hit him, the message had gone viral.

It even made headlines, with the New York Post writing a story on how Kellogg and the Mountaineers had put a target on Clark and Iowa.

Clark, as everyone knows, has become the face of college basketball with her unbelievable scoring stats and her ability to hit shots from anywhere on the court.

Thousands of comments, as one could imagine, were thrown at Kellogg, who is in his first season with the Mountaineers (24-7).

"People are Facebooking me and my family, " Kellogg said. "I had a Valentine's Day post and an Iowa fan has now come on it and commented and said the biggest mistake of my life was poking the bear and Caitlin Clark."

In a press conference Tuesday, Kellogg tried to explain the situation, as in he wasn't putting a target on Clark, the all-time leading scorer in all of college basketball.

He wasn't trying to imply the Mountaineers were overlooking Princeton (25-4), who WVU plays in the first round of the tournament at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

In the heat of the moment, Kellogg was simply trying to fire up the crowd.

"I mean, what was I supposed to say?" Kellogg asked rhetorically.

Someone in the crowd yelled out that if WVU wanted to advance it had to send Clark packing.

Kellogg used it and the crowd went wild. There was no intent to belittle anyone.

"There wasn't intent in any way, shape or form to do anything like that," Kellogg said. "It was just having fun with the crowd at the time."

It's now become something more, obviously, and Kellogg is being made out to be some sort of villain at worst, or at the very least, a controversial figure.

He is fine with that, even though Kellogg is anything but a villain or controversial.

Kellogg has handled the transition into his first year at WVU with nothing but respect and class and has always gone out of his way to show the same to WVU's opponents.

"We don't operate that way," Kellogg said. "That's not even part of my character. I don't talk trash."

He did try and put a positive spin on it all, saying at the very least it's got more people talking about women's basketball.

"I've never tried to be the villain guy, but if we are, that's OK if my team is motivated," Kellogg said. "It's all fun and games, really. It's our sport and people are talking about it."