Brittney Griner’s ‘heartless’ college coach blasted for refusing to comment on jailed WNBA star

Brittney Griner sits in a prison cell

Kim Mulkey, who coached basketball star Brittney Griner for four years, has been branded “heartless” after refusing to comment on her detention in Russia.

Mulkey coached Griner while she played for Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and Griner told ESPN in 2013 that during that time, she was discouraged by Mulkey from coming out publicly as a lesbian.

Mulkey, who now coaches Louisiana State University’s women’s basketball team, was asked about the imprisoned two-time Olympic medal winner by Daily Advertiser reporter Cory Diaz at a press conference on Monday (26 September).

Diaz asked his question in two parts: “How do you describe the process of putting that collective group together and I just wanted to know your thoughts on Brittany Griner’s situation, I dont think I saw anything from you on that…”

Cutting him off in a now-viral video clip, Mulkey responded: “And you won’t.”

Sports writer Daniel Connolly tweeted: “Kim Mulkey was given the opportunity to say and do the absolute *bare minimum* about Brittney Griner and instead decided it was better to lack any semblance of a soul.”

Other Twitter users described Mulkey as “horrible, cruel and heartless”, and “an awful person”.

In stark contrast Nicki Collen, the current head women’s basketball coach at Baylor University, said at a press conference on the same day: “I think BG, first of all, is human first. I think this is a human rights issue.

“No one’s saying she didn’t make a mistake. None of us are perfect. But I guess I would wanna know if I did something and was stuck in a foreign country, what it was, what it wasn’t. I think we all know that 10 years is a long time. I see her as a mother, as a sister, as a spouse, as a daughter, as an unbelievable ambassador for the game of basketball.”

Griner was detained in February at an airport near Moscow when Russian authorities accused her of having a vape cartridge with hash oil in her luggage.

Griner’s lawyers hoped to soften the sentencing by having her plead guilty, and told a Russia’s Khimki Court court that Griner inadvertently packed the oil, which she uses medically.

But Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison by judge Anna Sotnikova of the, along with a fine of one million rubles, around £14,400. 

Griner’s representatives have filed an appeal against the verdict, and her supporters continue to lobby the Biden administration to take action while she sits in a Russian prison.

The US and Russia are currently in talks about a prisoner swap which would secure Griner’s release in exchange for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.