LSU coach sets poor example after brawl

A brawl leading to multiple ejections at the end of an LSU-South Carolina showdown in womens' basketball was bad enough. But LSU head coach Kim Mulkey's commentary afterward made it even worse.



March 12, 2024 - 1:06 PM

Head coach Kim Mulkey of the LSU Lady Tigers poses after defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 during the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament championship game at American Airlines Center on April 02, 2023, in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/TNS

Just when you think Kim Mulkey can’t go any lower, the LSU coach manages to defy expectations.

After an ugly brawl broke out in the closing minutes of the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game, Mulkey’s lack of class and character revealed itself again as soon as she spoke up.

Instead of taking the high road — a route that rarely has been on Mulkey’s map throughout her storied career — she essentially called out rival South Carolina for not picking on someone its own size.

Mulkey couldn’t help but note that the trouble started when LSU guard Flau’jae Johnson, who checks in at 5-foot-10, was shoved to the court by 6-7 Gamecocks forward Kamilla Cardoso.

“No one wants to be a part of that. No one wants to see that ugliness,” Mulkey said. “But I can tell you this: I wish she would have pushed Angel Reese.”

In Mulkey’s warped view, that would have been more of a fair fight, since Reese is 6-3 and closer in size to Cardoso.

“Don’t push a kid,” Mulkey said, sounding worse with every ill-chosen word. “Don’t push somebody that little. That was uncalled for, in my opinion. Let those two girls that were jawing, let them go at it.”

Sorry, coach, this is college basketball, not the WWE.

The more proper response came from South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who was downright appalled at what she had witnessed on what should’ve been a day of celebration for her sport.

A much-anticipated matchup between a pair of rivals that captured the last two national championships ended with six players ejected, leaving barely enough to finish the game. (Which, in case you missed it, was won by top-ranked South Carolina 79-72.)

Staley apologized profusely for her team’s actions during the trophy presentation on the court and seemed to grasp far more than Mulkey what sort of impression it left for those watching.

“I just don’t want the people who are tuning in to women’s basketball to see that and think that is our game, because it isn’t,” Staley said. “Our game is a really beautiful thing. To be quite honest, this is a part of it now. So we have to fix it, and we have to move on.”

Back to Mulkey, who seemed to think the root of the problem was the referees swallowing their whistles.

“Do you realize there was only one foul called on each team with two minutes to play in the fourth quarter?” Mulkey said. “Are you kidding me? That might have created some of that.”

That’s utter nonsense, of course, but it’s hardly the first time Mulkey’s moral compass has pointed in the wrong direction.

After all, this is a coach who — despite a glittering record that includes more than 700 wins and four national titles — never has seemed like a champion for women’s sports.