Kim Mulkey briefly asked about Brittney Griner ahead of Final Four: ‘I’m glad she’s safe’

LSU coach Kim Mulkey has been largely quiet regarding Brittney Griner’s arrest and eventual release from Russian custody in recent months — which many thought was strange, considering Griner helped lead Baylor to a national championship under Mulkey.

On Thursday, ahead of LSU’s appearance in the Final Four in Dallas, Mulkey was asked about Griner and if she’s spoken to her former player since she was released by Russia in a prisoner exchange in December.

“No. But I’m glad she’s back,” Mulkey said, via “I’m glad she’s safe, she’s sound. I think everybody is. But no, I have not [talked to her].”

Griner was arrested in a Moscow airport on Feb. 17, 2022, after authorities there claimed they found a cartridge of hashish oil in her luggage. She was detained there for almost a year before the United States struck a deal for her release in December. Griner, 32, is preparing to play with the Phoenix Mercury this season.

Griner played at Baylor from 2009-13. The Lady Bears won a national championship during her junior season after going a perfect 40-0. Griner was eventually selected by the Mercury with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013.

Mulkey coached at Baylor from 2000-21. She won three national titles there and made the Final Four four different times. She joined LSU last season. The Tigers will square off against No. 1 Virginia Tech in the Final Four on Friday.

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey

Kim Mulkey was largely quiet about Brittney Griner’s arrest and detainment in Russia despite them winning a national title together at Baylor. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

Griner and Mulkey had a falling out near the end of her collegiate career. Griner came out publicly as gay before the 2013 WNBA Draft, and said she was encouraged to keep quiet about her sexuality while at Baylor, which is a private Baptist university. Griner has not called out Mulkey specifically, but did mention Baylor and her struggles there in her 2014 book, “In My Skin.”

Mulkey was asked specifically about Griner in September, when she was still in Russian custody, by The Daily Advertiser’s Cory Diaz. Mulkey cut Diaz off mid-question to shut him down.

“I just want to get your thoughts on the Brittney Griner situation,” Diaz said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything from you on that and just — ”

“And you won’t,” Mulkey said. “I’ll answer the first one for ya.”

That drew plenty of criticism from some of her former players and others.

Mulkey issued a brief statement about Griner’s release in December to ESPN’s M.A. Voepel.

“God is good. Prayers are powerful,” Mulkey said. “Brittney is on her way home where she belongs. Our prayers remain with her and her family as they recover and heal together.”

Given their history, and the fact that Griner and Mulkey haven’t reconnected in the month’s since her return, it doesn’t sound likely that the two will speak again anytime soon.

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