LSU coach Kim Mulkey watches as the defending national champion Tigers hold on for a win against Rice. Credit: USA TODAY

While the general consensus seems to be that Kim Mulkey was overzealous in her preemptive criticism of Kent Babb’s profile of her for The Washington Post, the same can’t be said for her response to a column in The Los Angeles Times comparing LSU’s program to UCLA’s.

In fact, most seemed to agree with Mulkey’s assessment of Ben Bolch’s column, which the Tigers head coach referred to as “sexist” after LSU beat the Bruins to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

Apparently, Mulkey’s criticism of the opinion piece struck a chord with the publication, as the Times quietly edited the column on Saturday night. While the controversial headline — “Commentary: UCLA-LSU is America’s sweethearts vs. its basketball villains” — remains, the outlet removed much of the language that Mulkey had publicly taken issue with, including calling LSU “dirty debutantes” and “villains,” while contrasting the Tigers’ “Louisiana hot sauce” to UCLA’s “milk and cookies” program.

“The original version of this commentary did not meet Times editorial standards. It has been edited to remove language that was inappropriate and offensive,” an editor’s note on the updated column reads. “We apologize to the LSU basketball program and to our readers.”

While updating the column was the best course of action, the reality is that the damage is already done. In addition to Mulkey, LSU players took notice of the opinion piece, with star forward Angel Reese responding on social media and guard Hailey van Lith drawing attention to the racial component of such criticism.

“I think there’s a lot of situations that play into it, but I think we do have a lot of Black women on this team. We do have a lot of people that are from different areas, and unfortunately, that bias does exist still today,” van Lith, who is white, told reporters. “A lot of the people that are making those comments are being racist towards my teammates. I’m in a unique situation where I see it with myself. I’ll talk trash and I’ll get a different reaction than if Angel talks trash.”

Despite the apology, the fact that Bolch’s original column was published including such language certainly raises questions about the Los Angeles Times‘ editorial process. In the meantime, score one for Mulkey in her fight against the media, as — in this instance — she was absolutely in the right to publicly defend her players and program.

[The Los Angeles Times]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.