Kim Mulkey has five national championships and an Olympic gold medal. She’s been named the Big 12 Coach of the Year five times and has compiled a 531-97 record in her 18th season at Baylor to go with a 130-6 record as a player at Louisiana Tech. Mulkey is currently in eight different Halls of Fame and could add another to the list as she was announced as a finalist for the Naismith Hall of Fame.
“If I’m ever fortunate enough to make it in there, I hope Baylor will help me pay for every kid I have ever coached to go there because I’m only as good as they are,” Mulkey said. “I’m only as good as those coaches who bring me those kids. I might tweak a little thing here and there, and I might add a little motivation, but in the end they make a coach. I’m humbled and honored.”
The third-ranked Lady Bears are a win away from claiming their eighth-straight Big 12 regular season titles. When Kim Mulkey took over the Baylor women’s basketball program in April 2000, the Lady Bears weren’t cutting down many nets. The Lady Bears finished the 1999-00 season 7-20.
“I came to Baylor to get a pay check and to try to get them out of the celler of the Big 12. I came 18 years ago. Honestly, under circumstances that I always said thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember the story about how I got here and Louisiana Tech not giving me a five-year deal. Life is just, throws you curveballs and you either hit those curveballs or you strike out. Well, I’m not one who is used to striking out.”
Since Mulkey took over the Baylor women’s basketball program, the Lady Bears went from cellar dweller to the best in the league and one of the tops in the country. She led Baylor to its first Big 12 regular season title in 2004-05 and then the Big 12 tournament championship before winning the national championship which was the program’s first, and first for a Baylor women’s team sport.
That 84-62 victory over Michigan State inside the RCA Dome in Indianapolis not only made history for Baylor, it also made Mulkey the only person to win a national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
“Little did I know that we would be able to build it as fast as we did and win a national championship in five years. Then, we had to keep feeding that old monster and I think we keep feeding that monster.”
The Lady Bears have returned to the NCAA Tournament every year since that 2004-05 season with Baylor’s next trip to the Final Four coming in 2009-10. Two seasons later, the Lady Bears were perfection. Baylor went 40-0 for the program’s second national title in 2012. That season, Mulkey was named Consensus National College Coach of the Year, earning Naismith Coach of the Year, Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year and USBWA National Coach of the Year.
Overall, she has led the Lady Bears to three Final Fours, eight Elite Eights and 12 Sweet 16s in 16 NCAA Tournament appearances.
If inducted, Mulkey would be the first player or coach from Baylor to enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The complete list of nine finalists from the North American Screening Committee includes: players Ray Allen, Maurice Cheeks, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Chris Webber; coaches Charles “Lefty” Driesell and Rudy Tomjanovich; and referee Hugh Evans. The four finalists from the Women’s Screening Committee includes: players Katie Smith and Tina Thompson, Mulkey, and Wayland Baptist University as a team.
The Class of 2018 will be announced on Saturday, March 31 at a press conference in San Antonio prior to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. Enshrinees from the Direct Elect Committees are also recognized at the NCAA Men’s Final Four and include Early African-American Pioneers, International, Contributors and Veterans. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.