Brittney Griner returned to the United States in December after spending 294 days wrongfully detained in Russia. But her former college coach has not spoken with the WNBA star since her release.
LSU’s Kim Mulkey, who coached Griner at Baylor, has not been in contact with Griner, she revealed to reporters at the Final Four media day. Mulkey has led her current team to the cusp of a national title game appearance in Dallas.
“I’m glad she’s back. I’m glad she’s safe, she’s sound. I think everybody is. But no, I have not,” Mulkey said when asked about whether she had been in tough with Griner.
Together, Mulkey and Griner helped Baylor to a 40-0 record and an NCAA Tournament championship in 2012. Yet after Griner left Baylor in 2013 and was selected as the first overall pick by the Phoenix Mercury, details of their seemingly contentious relationship came to light.
Last year, while traveling to play for her Russian team, Griner was arrested for the possession of vape cartridges containing a small amount of cannabis oil. The Mercury center was imprisoned for 10 months before a prisoner exchange brought her home to the United States.
During Griner’s time in Russia, Mulkey declined to comment on her former player’s plight.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anything from you on that,” a reporter note at LSU’s first preseason practice in September.
“And you won’t,” replied Mulkey, a response that brought criticism from some of her other former Baylor players, including 2019 national champions Queen Egbo and NaLyssa Smith.
Mulkey finally broke her silence on Griner’s imprisonment upon the WNBA star’s release in December.
“God is good. Prayers are powerful,” Mulkey said in a statement to ESPN. “Brittney is on her way home where she belongs. Our prayers remain with her and her family as they recover and heal together.”
When asked about her relationships with former players earlier in Thursday’s Final Four news conference, Mulkey noted that she does not stay in contact with every player she has coached.
“Let me make it clear. You’re not in contact with all your former players,” she said. “Some don’t like you. Then you’ve got those that you stay in contact with… But you hope that, when your career is over, you have more that love you and like you and appreciate you than don’t.”