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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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