One writer says Kim Mulkey “dropped the ball”

The comments on my previous entry on the Baylor recruiting scandal are running 3-1 against Coach Kim Mulkey. Today longtime Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins added her two cents, and she’s on the side of the three: she says Mulkey dropped the ball on protecting the game’s integrity. Key excerpts:

Maybe that’s because women’s basketball is comparatively clean. You hate to see the standards lowered in a sport that still actually has some…….

But that’s why the list of petty abuses she committed is so aggravating. Mulkey is positioned as the new standard bearer and bright coaching star of women’s basketball — a role she clearly wants, judging by her glittering outfits — but she just dipped the flag in the mud.

The women’s game is at an interesting juncture: Coaches and administrators are trying to figure out how to grow it in profitability without emulating the corruptions of the men’s game. They can legitimately argue that their audience is devoted — 4.2 million viewers watched Baylor beat Notre Dame for the title — precisely because the sport has a purer brand. Players are still real students who graduate at high rates; coaches are still real teachers as opposed to shysters; and the athletic scholarship is still meaningful, as opposed to a one-year inconvenience.

The question is how long it will stay that way. The answer is up to Mulkey.

That’s not a light or facetious statement. The answer really is up to her, personally. Because Mulkey is at the top of the game, every other coach in the country will now imitate her. All of her peers will treat the rules the way she treats them……..

But here are some other facts: In 2006, at around the same time she was cultivating the Griners at summer games, Mulkey hired DFW Elite’s coach Damion McKinney to her staff. McKinney is the assistant who made many of the improper calls and texts detailed by the NCAA, more than 300 of them in 2011 to a current DFW Elite coach…….

Anyone who cares about the women’s game wants Mulkey to become everything she should be: not just the next possessor of multiple banners, but preserver of what integrity the game still has. That means embracing a certain reality: She has extra responsibility to do things the right way. If we eventually look over our shoulders and ask when the women’s game went down the slippery slope, we’ll look at this day, the day the reigning national champion went on probation, as the starting point.

Strong stuff. Is Jenkins on the money or not?

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  1. It's dead on the money. The hiring of the assistant from DFW was poor judgement, but, for the sake of argument, let's say she felt she was losing too many local Texas recruits. But now he should be gone tomorrow. I don't know why, but this seems to have the same flavor as Kansas hiring of Danny Manning's father as an assistant. Couple it with the illegal contact with Griner's father and you have a bad situation which could get much worse. Better they should have made an example of her than letting her slide right out of responsibility for her actions.

  2. While we're discussing the integrity of women's basketball, shouldn't Sally Jenkins disclose her co-authorship of two books with Pat Summitt? (Reach for the Summit and Raise the Roof.) She's not exactly an objective observer.

  3. Sue, I didn't state that well.

    I don't think Jenkins is out to get Mulkey, but the world of women's basketball is like a spider's web, what with all the connections, visible and not.

    Part of what's making this hard to discuss on-line is that we aren't all on the same page. Jason King's article in no way compares to the NCAA report, all 40 pages of which I've printed and read. The report's detail shows that the number of impermissible calls by the women's program was miniscule. And that the AAU/camp connection between Mulkey's daughter and Brittney Griner was insisted on by BG's father.

  4. That may be the case about not being on the same page. One refrain I keep hearing is, "the calls don't compare to what the men's program does," as if that made it any less reprehensible. Comparisons to the men's side run hollow for people like myself, who don't follow men's hoops. That's why I threw the question open.

  5. What happened to Mulkey and Baylor just shows that all the bad things in the mens game is filtering down to the womens side.

  6. Sally Jenkins also forgot to mention that she went to Stanford. Of course, Baylor just eliminated Stanford from the final four a few days before Sally decided to trash Mulkey…

    She should have mentioned where she went to College in the article. I will. I went to Baylor. I don't think she was objective.