Kim Mulkey left Baylor for LSU last April, but the accolades seem to be following. The longtime Bears coach earned her third AP Coach of the Year award Thursday, a feat only UConn coach Geno Auriemma and former Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw accomplished before.
In her first season in Baton Rouge, Mulkey led LSU to 26 wins – its most since 2007-08 – a 13-3 SEC record and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The campaign is additionally impressive considering Mulkey inherited a team that went 9-13 a season ago.
“I can’t name all the things that the team did this year but it was unbelievable,” Mulkey told the AP. “We were not supposed to do what we did in a year. That’s hard to do.”
But while the Mulkey-led Tigers found success in the regular season, little carried into the NCAA Tournament. Despite hosting the first two rounds, LSU skated by No. 14 seed Jackson State 83-77 before falling to No. 6 seed Ohio State by 15.
Mulkey won the 2022 AP Coach of the Year award with 10 votes from the 30-member national media panel, narrowly edging out South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, who earned eight. Staley, whose Gamecocks are set to play Louisville in the Final Four on Friday, won Naismith Coach of the Year on Wednesday.
Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer was the next highest vote-getter with three, while Baylor’s Nicki Collen – Mulkey’s successor – and NC State’s Wes Moore earned two apiece. Five other coaches also received a vote.
Mulkey spent 21 years at Baylor, leading the team to three national championships, winning two AP Coach of the Year Awards – in 2012 and 2019 – and reaching 600 wins faster than any other women’s college basketball coach. The 59-year-old entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020, joining the only other two coaches to have at least three AP Coach of the Year awards in Auriemma and McGraw.
“I’m certainly honored to be in that group,” Mulkey said of Auriemma and McGraw. “This doesn’t happen without players who allow you to coach them and buy into a system. We had a really, really good year.”