What's The Beef Between Brittney Griner & Her Ex Coach Kim Mulkey About?

Brittney Griner was Baylor University's star basketball player from 2011 to 2013 under coach Kim Mulkey, and while she was instrumental in the team's many wins, their relationship was a complicated one. Mulkey was able to guide Griner, along with the other Baylor Bears, to a national championship win in 2012 with a perfect score. "Brittney Griner is the face of women's basketball right now. And we embrace that," her coach stated after the victory, per Baylor University. As for Griner, she shared, "It had nothing to do with validating what type of player I am. That was the last thing in my mind. It's the team and just getting the national championship for coach and for Baylor."

Behind the scenes, however, was a different story. When Griner first joined the Baylor basketball team, she told Mulkey, "I'm gay; I hope that's not a problem," per ESPN. According to the 6'8" star, she was told that her sexuality didn't matter, but she felt that support from her coach was lacking. "It was a recruiting thing. The coaches thought if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids play for Baylor," Griner stated. Mulkey didn't deny Griner's statement, but responded to the athlete's comments via her rep, saying that while she couldn't get into specifics when it came to Griner or any other player, she'd always consider Griner to be "a celebrated member of the Baylor family." Despite her words, almost 10 years later, Mulkey was noticeably silent when her former star center ended up in serious legal trouble overseas.

Kim Mulkey didn't have Brittney Griner's back during her Russia arrest

In February 2022, Brittney Griner was arrested at a Russian airport after being found with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. Although U.S. officials and the NBA worked hard to bring Griner back home, she was detained in prison for 10 months before she was released through a prisoner exchange. Throughout this time, Kim Mulkey remained publicly silent on Griner's arrest and was asked during a press conference shared by LSU Sports, "I just wanted to get your thoughts on Brittney Griner's situation and I don't think I've seen anything from you on that." Mulkey immediately cut him off and stated, "And you won't."

WNBA star Queen Egbo was quick to slam Mulkey. "A player that built Baylor, 2 national titles, & a 40-0 record. Yet her former coach refuses to say anything or simply just show any kind of support. Keep that in mind when you're choosing schools," she tweeted. Following Griner's release, Mulkey admitted that she still hadn't spoken to her but added (via Nola), "But I'm glad she's back. I'm glad she's safe, she's sound. I think everybody is."

Kim Mulkey was absent from Brittney Griner's jersey retirement

Brittney Griner accomplished a lot for Baylor University, and retiring her jersey number 42 would have been a great honor. Unfortunately, after she left the school, one rule prevented that from happening. As reported by The Mirror, Kim Mulkey required that basketball players had to graduate first in order to retire their jerseys. When Griner left in 2013, she did not leave with a college degree, but she eventually completed her education in 2019. Mulkey's position as head coach ended in 2021, and she was replaced by Nicki Collen, who made the decision to honor Griner's legacy at Baylor. The basketball player's statement noticeably left out her former coach and instead read, "I'm honored to return home to Baylor and celebrate where so much of my journey started. I'm grateful to Coach Nicki and the entire Baylor community and looking forward to the opportunity to be back on campus, spend time with the team and have my family beside me to share in this incredible moment."

Unsurprisingly, Mulkey did not attend Griner's jersey retirement ceremony, but she did state (via LSU Wire), "I think it's awesome. It's awesome, and I'm sure it'll be a great environment." While the comment wasn't hostile, it was pretty lukewarm for such an achievement by her former top player. It seems Mulkey and Grinder are not going to mend fences anytime soon.