Former Baylor women's basketball star Brittney Griner told ESPN the Magazine on Friday that coach Kim Mulkey told players not to openly discuss their sexuality because it would hurt the school's image.
Griner, who was the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury, recently disclosed publicly that she is gay.
"It was a recruiting thing," Griner said. "The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids come play for Baylor."
Griner's friends and family knew about her sexual orientation, but she said she was silent about it at Baylor because coaches requested it.
"It was more of a unwritten law (to not discuss your sexuality) ... it was just kind of, like, one of those things, you know, just don't do it," Griner said. "They kind of tried to make it, like, 'Why put your business out on the street like that?' "
However, she said everyone at Baylor knew she was gay when she was a freshman.
"I told Coach (Mulkey) when she was recruiting me," Griner said. "I was like, 'I'm gay. I hope that's not a problem,' and she told me that it wasn't. I mean, my teammates knew, obviously they all knew. Everybody knew about it."
Baylor University is a private Baptist school in Waco, Texas. It has a "Statement on Human Sexuality" in its student handbook that discourages homosexuality.
The school encourages that students grappling with sexual issues to seek out counseling or consult with the school's Spiritual Life Office.
In a statement recently released by Baylor, Mulkey said: "Brittney Griner represented Baylor University proudly on and off the basketball court, and she leaves behind an incredible legacy. I cannot comment on personal matters surrounding any of our student-athletes, but I can tell you Brittney will always be a celebrated member of the Baylor family."
Griner was named Big 12 Player of the Year three times and led Baylor to the 2012 NCAA championship, including a 40-0 record.