(this is not a photograph of Kim Mulkey reacting to Brittney Griner coming out)
Later this week, ESPN The Magazine and ESPNw are publishing an interview with Phoenix Mercury rookie and recent Baylor alumnus Brittney Griner, in which the the no. 1 overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft alleges Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey actively discouraged her from publicly discussing the former’s homosexuality. “”The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn’t let their kids come play for Baylor.” Griner told ESPN, though it seems the women’s basketball program were willing to turn a blind eye if it meant competing for a national title.
“It was more of a unwritten law [to not discuss your sexuality] … it was just kind of, like, one of those things, you know, just don’t do it,” Griner said Friday. “They kind of tried to make it, like, ‘Why put your business out on the street like that?'”
“I told Coach [Mulkey] when she was recruiting me. I was like, ‘I’m gay. I hope that’s not a problem,’ and she told me that it wasn’t,” Griner said. “I mean, my teammates knew, obviously they all knew. Everybody knew about it.”
Baylor University, a private Baptist school located in Waco, Texas, has a “Statement on Human Sexuality” in its student handbook. Located under the label “Sexual Misconduct,” it says that “Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.”
When asked by ESPN to give her side of the story, Mulkey, though quick to praise Griner (“she leaves behind an incredible legacy”) was equally fast in adding, “I cannot comment on personal matters surrounding any of our student-athletes”. Trouble is, it isn’t simply a personal matter involving Griner. The school’s defense of purity/fidelity aside (we’ll have to assume student-athletes engaging in premarital sex are expelled or have their scholarships stripped), it’s Mulkey’s actions that ought to be under scrutiny here, not Griner’s. Though it would be naive to think Mulkey is the only coach in college sports to have given similar advice to an athlete of either gender.