Tigers Head Coach Kim Mulkey The LSU Tigers take down the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament in Baton Rouge, LA at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Sunday, March 24, 2024. Credit: The Daily Advertiser

All of the talk heading into the 2024 NCAA Women’s Tournament was about Caitlin Clark, the growth of the sport, and the possibility of monster TV ratings.

Now, much of the discussion around March Madness is “When is that Washington Post article about LSU coach Kim Mulkey gonna drop?”

So how did we get here? Let’s dig into it.

So who is Kim Mulkey anyway?

Mulkey is the head coach of the LSU Tigers women’s basketball team. They’re a 3-seed in Regional 2 in Albany currently awaiting the winner of 2-seed UCLA and 7-seed Creighton in the Sweet Sixteen. It’s also worth noting that LSU is the defending national champion and that was Mulkey’s fourth national championship as a head coach. Currently in her third season at LSU, Mulkey was previously the head coach at Baylor for 21 seasons, where she won three national titles and went 632–104 (.859). A Kim Mulkey-coached team hasn’t won less than 25 games in a season since 2003.

Mulkey is Louisiana through and through. Born and raised there, she became an All-American point guard at Louisiana Tech, winning two national titles as a player. In 1985, she became an assistant coach at the school, which won another national title in 1988. By 1996, she ascended to associate head coach of the Lady Techsters until 2000 when she left for Baylor.

She sounds pretty accomplished. 

She is! Absolutely among the best women’s basketball coaches working today, and some might say she is the best. LSU recently signed her to a 10-year, $32-million deal. She’s also incredibly flamboyant, often wearing outlandish, exuberant, and some might say garish outfits while roaming the courtside during games.

I feel a “But” coming on…

But, she has a decent “Controversies” section on her Wikipedia page and she’s earned a reputation for being pretty ornery with the press, something that’s gained steam in recent years.

In 2017, while Baylor was embroiled in a massive sexual assault coverup scandal, she said that critics of the school should be punched in the face. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she called for teams to “dump” COVID-19 testing before the Final Four. She had a rather testy press conference earlier this season when asked about why star player Angel Reese wasn’t playing. She ruffled feathers with a tense halftime interview a couple of weeks back. And following a tussle towards the end of the LSU-South Carolina game in the SEC Tournament, while rival coach Dawn Staley apologized, Mulkey said she wished one of the instigating players pushed Angel Reese so she could have presumably done more damage in return.

Mulkey also coached Brittney Griner at Baylor and, in 2013, Griner told ESPN that Mulkey had told players to keep their sexual orientations to themselves, as being openly gay might damage the reputation of the school and hurt recruiting efforts.

Mulkey reportedly tried to have ESPN reporter Kate Fagan fired over the story.

At least Mulkey defended Griner when she was imprisoned in Russia and turned into a political pawn.


Oh no.

While most people around the world of women’s basketball offered words of support for Griner, including Baylor’s current head coach, Mulkey refused to comment about the situation on several occasions. “And you won’t,” Mulkey said to a reporter when they suggested Griner’s former coach hadn’t weighed in on the issue.

Two months after Griner was released and returned to the U.S., Mulkey said she hadn’t spoken with her former player. As far as we’re aware, they haven’t spoken since either.

So is that what this Washington Post article is about?


I mean, maybe that’s one part of it?

We actually have no idea.

What DO we know about it? 

Well, we first found out about it last Friday when Sports Illustrated writer Pat Forde posted on X that he was “hearing some buzz about a big Washington Post story in the works on LSU women’s hoops coach Kim Mulkey, potentially next week. Wagons being circled, etc.”

Wait, why is a Sports Illustrated writer breaking the news about the Washington Post’s previously unpromoted scoop?

Great question. We’re not really sure. It definitely rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and seemed like a journalistic faux pas. Jeff Pearlman took Forde to task over the weekend but later apologized after speaking with the SI writer, saying “Pat assured me via DM that he wasn’t breaking another writer’s confidence.”


Anyway. A day later, Mulkey used her NCAA Tournament media session before Sunday’s game against Middle Tennessee State to launch into a full-throated attack against the Washington Post and the “hit piece” they were writing about her.

“The lengths he has gone to try and put a hit piece together. This reporter has been working on a story about me for two years,” Mulkey said. “After two years of trying to get me to sit with him for an interview, he contacts LSU on Tuesday, as we were getting ready for the first round game of this tournament, with more than a dozen questions, demanding a response by Thursday, right before we were scheduled to tip-off. Are you kidding me?

“This was a ridiculous deadline that LSU and I could not possibly meet, and the reporter knew it. It was just an attempt to prevent me from commenting and an attempt to distract us from this tournament. It ain’t gonna work, buddy.”

Wait, she says the reporter has been trying to talk to her for two years but she’s refused, and then when he submits a bunch of questions with 48-hour notice she says that’s a tactic to make it impossible for her to respond in time? That doesn’t make any sense.


Alright, well, who is this reporter? 

Mulkey didn’t name the reporter, though she referred to them as “he” and mentioned a “hit job” that he wrote about LSU football coach Brian Kelly two years prior. It didn’t take too much work to identify the report in question as January 2022’s “In Baton Rouge, there’s a $100 million football coach and everyone else,” which juxtaposed Kelly’s extravagant salary against the harsh financial conditions that Baton Rouge’s residents and LSU’s students face. That article was written by WaPo reporter Kent Babb.

Babb essentially confirmed that he’s the reporter on this story when he shared the article in question on X with the caption “Hit piece?”

Several outlets have also confirmed that Babb is the reporter that Mulkey was referring to.

“I’m not able to say anything beyond to confirm that I am working on a profile of Kim Mulkey,” he told OutKick.

What’s Babb’s deal?

His deal is that he’s a very well-respected and award-winning sports features writer and reporter who has been with WaPo since 2012. He’s currently working on the paper’s Sports and Society enterprise team and, per his bio, his journalism “often explores the intersections of sports and cultural issues, such as politics, mental health, and race.”

He’s the author of two books, including a biography on Allen Iverson, he’s won various sports writing awards and was a finalist for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing.

Before WaPo, he covered the Kansas City Chiefs for The Kansas City Star and worked as a sports reporter for The State in South Carolina.

Was his Washington Post piece on Brian Kelly a “hit job?” 

Not by whatever standard Mulkey seemed to be inferring. In fact, Babb never directly criticizes Kelly in the article.

The only criticism that the LSU football coach receives comes from LSU Board of Supervisors member Collis Temple Jr., who takes a shot at Kelly over the fact that he was getting paid handsomely from both Notre Dame and LSU while many LSU professors and Baton Rouge residents struggle to make ends meet. While the article certainly asks its readers to consider the imbalance in the situation, it does not paint Kelly as a chief villain.

To read that article as a “hit job” is to be a person in a similar position of power who does not want to be criticized.

What else did Mulkey have to say about Babb?

On Sunday, when asked if LSU’s sluggish start against MTSU was related to the drama surrounding this impending report, Mulkey said that not only was it unrelated but her team wasn’t going to let a “sleazy reporter” distract them from their goal.

Does Babb seem sleazy, though?

Well, a quick perusal of his most recent WaPo work includes how the Detroit Lions’ great season inspired the local community, how the wives of great football players deal with their CTE diagnoses and early deaths, the excitement of his first F1 race, and how two college roommates now find themselves on opposite sides of the CTE debate.

He seems very concerned with writing about the intersection of sports and its communities, and how there are larger conversations we need to have around wealth disparity, health issues, and taking care of those who give so much to entertain us.

So, no, he does not seem very sleazy to us.

What about the fact that Mulkey said former players told her Babb “contacted them and offered to let them be anonymous in a story if they’ll say negative things about me.”

Presumably, he’s spoken with some people who will go on the record, but reaching out to as many former players as possible to build a complete profile on who Mulkey is and what it was like to play for her seems like par for the course. You’ve read plenty of profile pieces over the years where the reporter did this and you didn’t have a problem in those instances.

As for the part about how he wants former players to say negative things about Mulkey, we’re not gonna sit here and call her a liar, but we’d like to see some confirmation of that specific ask.

So, again, what is in this article?

That’s the thing. We have no idea. The only inkling of a clue came from Mulkey herself when she said on Sunday that her current LSU team is “not involved in this.” Still, that doesn’t give us much to go on, and we presumed it was more of a bigger profile on her career anyway.

Care to speculate about what’s in it?

Absolutely not! Plenty of people on social media have made their speculations based on what we know about Mulkey and things that have been previously reported, but it seems silly to try and guess at this point.

It must be pretty bad if Mulkey is going on the offensive like this, no? 

You would imagine so, although Mulkey also seems to really dislike journalists and criticism in general, so it might very well be an overreaction as well.

She threatened to sue the Washington Post!

I know!

Does she have a chance to win?

Almost certainly not!

But what if they report something false about her? 

Look, I know what country we all live in here in 2024 and all the dumb things some people have been saying about journalists. And no one is going to say that journalists don’t get it wrong from time to time. But the chances that Babb and the Washington Post are going to print with a profile on someone like Mulkey without being entirely buttoned up with multiple sources and confirmations to back everything up is absurd. Especially now that she’s put a spotlight on the article. There’s a better chance of LSU losing by 40 in the Sweet Sixteen than WaPo running with something entirely made up.

As for the legal threats, the Washington Post has been threatened by people far more powerful than Kim Mulkey over their reporting and did it anyway. They ain’t scared.

So when does this story come out?

Probably very soon. We have to presume that WaPo wants to post it as soon as this week. LSU’s next game is Saturday, March 30 and, if they win, they’ll play again on Monday, April 1. It’s entirely possible that LSU could meet Caitlin Clark and 1-seed Iowa in the Elite Eight, a game that would probably shatter TV ratings records.

Presuming that Babb and the Post are almost ready to roll on their report, which seems likely given their requests for Mulkey last week, they have to decide if they want to publish the report before the end of the week or roll the dice on LSU still being around on Monday for that potentially epic showdown. If they wait too long and LSU loses on Saturday before they publish, they risk losing the juice they’ve got right now.

Wait, why DOES this story have so much juice?

Kim Mulkey! Kim Mulkey is the reason! Seemingly unaware of the Streisand effect, she has jacked up the anticipation around this story tenfold.

What does Barbra Streisand have to do with this? 

In 2003, Barbra Streisand attempted to suppress the publication of a photo showing her Malibu home. By making such a big deal about it and trying so hard to get people not to see it, she inadvertently turned the photo into something people searched out, garnering it far more attention than it would have gotten had she done nothing.

Thus, the Streisand effect was named.

Sure, a Washington Post profile on Kim Mulkey that presumably contains juicy details was always going to make waves, but Mulkey’s preemptive strike and legal threats essentially turned it into a highly anticipated report that people are now desperate to read.

So now what?

Now we wait.

The waiting is the hardest part.

Tom Petty was right. He was always right.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.