Baylor coach Kim Mulkey made headlines after the Bears' narrow loss to Connecticut in Monday night's Elite Eight for questioning the need for continued COVID-19 testing in the Final Four of the women's NCAA Tournament.
In the hours that followed, Mulkey's comments drew more attention than the controversial no-call on Baylor's final possession — "You can’t swallow your whistle when the game is on the line," senior guard DiJonai Carrington wrote on Twitter — or the Bears' failure to repeat as national champions.
Maybe this shouldn't come as a surprise. Several times in her Hall of Fame career, Baylor's longtime coach has come under scrutiny for comments that have been perceived as callous or, judging from the reaction to her comments Monday, dangerously misinformed.
Baylor's head coach since 2000 after a long and successful career as a player and assistant at Louisiana Tech, Mulkey has led the Bears to 631 wins and three national championships, including a perfect 40-0 record in 2011-12 and a 37-1 mark in 2018-19.
In many ways, Mulkey has emerged as such a well known and talented coach, she is receiving the same kind of scrutiny, particularly when it comes to her behavior, as some of her legendary male counterparts like Bob Huggins or Jim Boeheim.
It's also fair game to examine her decision to accept the invitation of then-President Donald Trump to visit the White House, in the same way other coaches, like Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, was criticized by some for accepting Trump's invitation after a number of players declined to attend.
After Baylor won the 2019 title, Mulkey's team became the first female team — in any sport — to receive its own championship ceremony during Trump's presidency. More than 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, with many allegations surfacing after the 2016 release of a recording in which then-candidate Trump used lewd language as he brags of kissing and groping women.
"It's not a political issue for me. It's an honor to go to the White House," Mulkey told The Associated Press in April 2019. "I want everyone to say they went to the White House. Not many people can say that."
Here are five instances that stand out from Mulkey's tenure with the Bears:
Advocating for no COVID-19 testing
"They need to dump the COVID testing," Mulkey said Monday, unprompted. "Wouldn't it be a shame to keep COVID testing and then you got kids that test positive or something and they don't get to play in the Final Four? So you just need to forget the COVID tests and get the four teams playing in each Final Four and go battle it out."
For Mulkey to advocate against daily COVID-19 testing "is mind-boggling," USA TODAY Sports' Nancy Armour wrote. "The restrictions have been onerous and the testing is inconvenient. But to suggest throwing it all away now, less than a week before the men’s and women’s title games, is the height of irresponsibility."
Surprisingly, Mulkey's stance comes three months after she tested positive for the coronavirus, which forced Baylor into a two-week pause on team activities and led to the cancellation of an earlier non-conference matchup against the Huskies.
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