Kim Mulkey, Brittney Griner haven’t spoken since U.S. return

DALLAS — LSU coach Kim Mulkey has not spoken to Brittney Griner since the former Baylor star was freed from a Russian prison and returned to the U.S., but Mulkey did have a message for her former player.

“I’m glad she’s back,” Mulkey said at her Final Four news conference Thursday, a day before LSU faces Virginia Tech in the national semifinals. “I’m glad she’s safe, she’s sound. I think everybody is.”

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Mulkey was criticized in September for not offering any words of support or encouragement for Griner, the three-time All-American and WNBA star who was arrested in February 2022 in Russia on drug-related charges and was later convicted and sentenced to nine years in a Russian jail.

“And you won’t,” Mulkey interrupted in the fall when asked for a reaction to Griner’s situation by a reporter who suggested the coach hadn’t weighed in.

After Griner’s release in December in a prisoner swap with Russia, Mulkey issued a statement through ESPN expressing relief over the news.

Baylor was the first 40-0 national champion when Griner was a junior in 2012. The Bears lost in the regional finals a year later. Baylor also made the Final Four when Griner was a freshman.

After her Baylor career, Griner came out.

Days after she was the WNBA’s No. 1 overall pick by the Phoenix Mercury in 2013, Griner criticized Mulkey, saying her former coach forced her to keep her sexual orientation private because it could hurt recruiting at the private Baptist university.

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Griner re-signed with the Mercury in February after missing the 2022 WNBA season while imprisoned in Russia.

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