Kim Mulkey, a three-time NCAA champion coach at Baylor, will head home to take the head coaching job at LSU, the school announced on Sunday afternoon. It's a major shake-up in the women's college coaching ranks after more than a decade of Big 12 conference domination for Baylor.
Following rumors the past few days, Mulkey told Nick Canizales at 12 News Now she expected to make her decision on Sunday. She's tied for the third-most NCAA titles as coach in women's history.
"Kim Mulkey is a champion and a Hall of Famer, and we are thrilled to welcome her home," LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. "Her accomplishments are unprecedented, her passion is unrivaled, and her commitment to winning in all aspects of life – in the classroom, on the court, and in the community – is unparalleled. We look forward to working with her as she instills that championship culture at LSU."
Mulkey will be officially introduced on Monday afternoon.
The position at LSU officially opened on Saturday when Nikki Fargas announced her resignation. Fargas is reportedly in negotiations to become the team president of the Las Vegas Aces, the Associated Press reported. Those talks have been ongoing for the past week.
Mulkey coaching movement massive change
The move is another big-time offseason shake-up in the Big 12 conference.
Mulkey won three national titles at Baylor (2005, 2012, 2019) and is 632-104 all-time since 2000. Her Bears teams won the past 11 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles with barely any competition. They've won 12 total regular season titles, 11 tournament titles and reached four women's Final Fours.
She has the third-best winning percentage (.859) in women's basketball history behind UConn's Geno Auriemma (.885) and Louisiana Tech's Leon Barmore (.869), her former coach and mentor as his assistant. Her three titles trail Auriemma (11) and Pat Summitt (8) while tying Stanford's Tara VanDerveer (3).
It's a large opening for Baylor to fill, and would open up conference title opportunities for teams like Texas. The Longhorns brought two-time National Coach of the Year Vic Schaefer home from a successful Mississippi State program last offseason.
Mulkey's Baylor tenure would end with a loss to UConn in a chippy Sweet 16 matchup that ended controversially. She closed her final public appearance by saying the NCAA should "dump the COVID testing" prior to the Final Four to ensure everyone could play. In 2017, she controversially defended the university amid the sexual assault scandal.
Mulkey reportedly made $2.27 million a year at the private Baylor whereas Fargas made $700,000 per year at LSU.
Mulkey returns home with hire
It's a return home for the 58-year-old Mulkey. She grew up an hour east of the LSU campus in Tickfaw, Louisiana, and won state championships with Hammond High School.
In the 1980s she led Louisiana Tech, a women's basketball powerhouse of the times, to two national championships as an All-American point guard. They won the AIAW title in 1981 and the first NCAA women's championship held in 1982. She was the inaugural winner of the women's Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award given to the top college senior.
Mulkey spent 15 years as an assistant and associate head coach under Barmore at Louisiana Tech. They teams went 430-68 in her time there, reaching seven Final Fours stages and winning the 1988 NCAA title.
She is the only individual to win women's basketball championships as a player, assistant coach and head coach. And she joins Bob Knight and Dean Smith as one of three to win NCAA titles as a player and coach. She is a member of the 2020 Naismith Hall of Fame class to be enshrined next month.
Kramer Robertson, Mulkey's son, played baseball at LSU and was drafted into the St. Louis Cardinals' organization in 2017 where he still plays.
Fargas' average career at LSU
Fargas leaves LSU after a decade at the helm and as the second-winningest coach in LSU women's basketball program history. Her all-time LSU record is 177-129 behind only Hall of Famer Sue Gunter. The Tigers had five 20-win seasons and six NCAA tournament appearances (it would have been seven if not for the 2019-20 cancelation).
LSU went 9-13 overall in 2020-21 and 6-8 in the SEC. The Tigers notched impressive wins over ranked opponents and strong NCAA tournament teams in Georgia and Texas A&M. They came within four of South Carolina in the middle of what could have been a quality five-game stretch. Their season concluded with a 77-58 loss to Texas A&M in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.
Every student-athlete who spend her entire career at the school graduated with a college degree under Fargas, the school said.
Fargas reportedly heading to WNBA's Aces
Fargas will reportedly join the Aces front office, taking the role of team president from head coach Bill Laimbeer. The Aces are under new ownership after Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis was approved by the WNBA's Board of Governors in February. He takes over for MGM Resorts.
The Aces lost in three games to the Seattle Storm in the 2020 WNBA Finals. The title favorites return MVP A'ja Wilson and two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby from that bubble squad. They also get back center Liz Cambage, who opted out, and guard Kelsey Plum, back from an Achilles injury. The team added stud point guard Chelsea Gray in free agency.
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