The road to success was long and hard for Kim Mulkey. To the surprise of many, that path led her to Baton Rouge. The Louisiana Tech alum was hired to lead LSU women’s basketball in April.
“It just feels good to feel wanted, ” says Mulkey. “Feels good to feel like you can make a contribution, not just to LSU. But, to the State of Louisiana.”
After over two decades away, one of the faces on the state’s Mount Rushmore of basketball returns home.
“It felt great at the press conference and the reception, ” says Mulkey. “Afterwards, I feel like just a time machine. 40 years later, I saw so many family and friends I haven’t seen since really I graduated high school, a lot of them.”
Once surrounded by royal blue, Tickfaw native Kim Mulkey is embracing the purple and gold. To the surprise of many, Mulkey left Baylor after 21 seasons to lead LSU women’s hoops.
“It was a six day struggle, ” says Mulkey. “I needed time to process everything. My players. You don’t build a program and do what we’ve done in 21 years. Those players, a lot of them came to Baylor because of me and I realize that. And, I felt like ‘Gosh, I’m letting down by leaving if I take the LSU job.’ So, it was many sleepless nights there.”
Ultimately, the five-time champion made the tough decision.
“Visited my family, ” says Mulkey. “Not many people and just kept tugging at my gut. I could retire at Baylor and be perfectly happy. God was just sending a message, ‘I think this is the last job you’ll probably be offered. It’s in your home state. You’re comfortable there. You have family and friends there.’ They were just embracing and wanting me to come.”
Coach Mulkey even had a little help from an old friend in Leon Barmore.
“I did brief him that I had been offered the job, and that I would let him know my decision, when I made it. And his response was, ‘I support you. You’re decision will be what’s right. It always is. Don’t ever change who you are.”
Kim Mulkey is finally back home. But, she never forgets what she built at Baylor.
“I’ve blown my nose, rubbed my eyes, and shed so many tears, ” says Mulkey. “Tears of joy. Not tears of regret. I invest in young people, they invest in me. And, you felt like you were deserting them. I do care, I am human. Just someday, you will understand, but I can’t make you understand right now.”