LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey hinted at the reason Monday why she suspended superstar forward Angel Reese last week.
And it apparently wasn’t because of poor grades, which has been a popular rumor on social media.
It was because of “locker room issues,” Mulkey intimated after LSU beat Texas Southern, 106-47, night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“You always have to deal with locker room issues,” Mulkey said. “That’s just part of coaching. Sometimes, y’all know about them, and sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you want to know more than you’re entitled to know.”
Mulkey is talking general, but it is obvious she is talking about Reese.
“I’m going to protect my players always,” Mulkey said. “They are more important. If you do some discipline of your own children, do you think we’re entitled to know that? That’s a family in that locker room.”
Where Mulkey is wrong here, though, is that most families do not have one of the world’s most famous woman athletes as a member, as Angel Reese is.
And Mulkey is the one acting entitled in not answering the most basic questions about Reese’s suspension. Coaches all over the world speak more and answer questions about their star athletes in similar situations. But Mulkey feels she is entitled not to do so.
Mulkey has never used the word “suspension” to describe Reese’s absence. And she has had a problem with outlets using that word. Media members shouldn’t wait for a coach to say it’s OK to use what is the accurate word for Reese’s situation.
If a player is not with the team like Reese but remains on the roster like Reese, but is not hurt, or is not on a leave of absence for a funeral or a personal problem, and Reese is not, then that player is suspended. Period.
“It doesn’t really matter what I say to you guys, you’re going to write and interpret things the way you want to,” Mulkey said. And she has that exactly right.
The fact that some in the media have not interpreted things the way she wants them interpreted has made her upset. And that’s too bad.
“Some of you wrote some things that I never said,” Mulkey said. Obviously, she is talking about the use of the word “suspension.”
Suspension is a word coaches often like to avoid because of its connotations, such as, the player has done something wrong. And they don’t want to see a headline with “suspension” in it. But obviously Reese is not missing from the team because she did something right.
“I never used some of the words y’all wrote,” Mulkey said. But she never said Reese was NOT suspended either.
“You interpreted it the way you wanted to,” she said. “Just write what I tell you.”
Wow! Just write what you tell us. Really?
What that quote says is this. Mulkey is obviously very accustomed to writers usually writing and interpreting things the way she wants. This often happens with a lot of women’s sports. They don’t have as much media coverage, and therefore they don’t have as much intense and critical media coverage. Coaches in men’s sports tend to not have it that easy.
We will interpret as we interpret, based on our knowledge – not just yours.
“Those kids are like my children,” she continued. “And I’m not going to tell you what you don’t need to know.”
Mulkey was asked if she had decided if Reese will make the trip to the Cayman Islands for LSU’s next two games at the Cayman Island Classic on Friday and Saturday.
“If I have, I wouldn’t tell you,” she said. “You’re not entitled to that information. OK?”
Mulkey, meanwhile, is too entitled to make any progress in her present situation. It is a situation new to her. She won three national championships while Baylor’s coach with several high-profile players.
But she has never had a player close to the international profile of an Angel Reese, and that includes Britney Griner at Baylor. Mulkey needs to realize that and up her game.
What Mulkey doesn’t realize, partly because she does not pay attention to social media, is that if she explained Angel Reese’s suspension just a little bit, she could clear it up somewhat, dispel the rumors on social media, and make life easier for one of her “children.”
That’s Media Relations 101.