Former Baylor coach Kim Mulkey declines to comment on Brittney Griner's detention in Russia.

In the 221 days after Brittney Griner was first imprisoned in Russia, Kim Mulkey, the coach for whom she won a national championship at Baylor, has remained silent. This continued on Monday when, when speaking to media at her first preseason workout of the year, she formally rejected any comment and dismissed a query regarding Griner.

Cory Diaz of The Daily Advertiser sent a two-part inquiry to Mulkey, who accepted the position of head women's basketball coach at LSU last year. The second query concerned Griner.

Diaz asked, "I just want to know what you think about the Brittney Griner incident. I don't believe I've seen anything from you on it, so just —

Mulkey said, "And you won't. I'll respond to your first question.

From 2009 until 2013, Griner, who will turn 32 in a month, played for Mulkey at Baylor. The Bears went 40-0 to win the national championship during Griner's junior season. Griner won the Wade Trophy and the AP Player of the Year awards in addition to being voted the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. Prior to the Phoenix Mercury selecting her first overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft, she also earned the Wade Award. She has played her whole WNBA career with the Mercury.

Mulkey and Griner fell out over ten years ago, and the star's connection to Baylor has since suffered. Griner expressed her desire for a stronger relationship with her alma university and the possibility of having her jersey retired there to ESPN months before she was arrested. 

Griner, a WNBA player who spends the summer in Russia, was detained on February 17 at a Moscow airport for allegedly attempting to enter the country with marijuana. She admitted to having 0.702 grams of hashish oil, which she said she had for therapeutic purposes, and to narcotics possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent. She received almost the maximum term from Russian authorities, which is nine years in a penitentiary camp. Her release as well as the release of fellow American prisoner Paul Whelan are being worked on by the American authorities.

Former Baylor coach Kim Mulkey declines to comment on Brittney Griner's detention in Russia.
Brittney Griner, right, and former Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey, left, are said to have had a tumultuous relationship ever since their argument some years ago. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
In the world of collegiate basketball, Mulkey's lack of comment on Griner's detention and current imprisonment has drawn much attention. At every significant turning point, including last month when she was found guilty and given a sentence, the basketball community has spoken out against the issue. Most people have at least expressed their wish for Griner's safety and ability to return to the US soon.

That day, Just Women's Sports contacted Mulkey and LSU, but neither responded. Even though the sentencing was anticipated and was seen as the essential next step for the U.S. government to negotiate her release, it was still a difficult day for the WNBA.

Since the player's last semesters at the university, Griner and Mulkey's friendship has been tense. Before the 2013 WNBA draft, Griner came out as homosexual in a momentous move for the time. She told reporters that while attending Baylor, a Texas-based private Baptist institution, she was urged to keep her sexuality a secret. It was covered by Griner in her 2014 book, "In My Skin." She said that the statement wasn't directed at Mulkey specifically but rather at Baylor's overall community and culture.

The school has a policy that states that sex should only be engaged in during heterosexual marriages. It committed to offering assistance to all students, regardless of their "sexual orientation or gender identity," in a resolution that was voted in May. The prohibition on "sexual intercourse of any kind outside of marriage" was still present.

Baylor comments on Griner

For its few replies, Baylor has also drawn criticism. In sharp contrast to organizations that made statements on their own social media accounts following Griner's conviction, it provided a statement to Just Women's Sports.

"With the disturbing news of Brittney Griner's judgment and sentence, we continue to pray for her continued courage and safety throughout her detention, "According to Baylor's statement. "Even though we are aware of how complicated this issue is, we are still optimistic that one day she will step foot on American soil once more.

On March 5, word of Griner's arrest initially surfaced. That same day, Baylor issued a statement in which they referred to it as "alarming" and stated that their "thoughts and prayers are with BG and her family." Between then until her sentence on August 5, it made no statements or released any information.

On July 8, the Baylor Athletics Twitter account posted a video and urged Griner to return home. However, the university's primary accounts did not post the same message.

In contrast, Griner has received a lot of attention from Nicki Collen, the former Atlanta Dream coach who replaced Mulkey as Baylor's head coach. Griner has been the subject of several tweets from Collen, who also published a petition to return Griner home in May. 

For five minutes, Collen talked with reporters about what it would be like to be away from his family for more than 200 days. "This, in my opinion, is a humanitarian issue. We can debate whether or not what she accomplished justifies an exchange for a weapons dealer. I believe there are several arguments in force. What isn't relevant, in my opinion, is the idea that we shouldn't do every effort to bring Brittney home."

Former Baylor athletes react to Mulkey's remarks

Following the spread of Mulkey's remarks, the Indiana Fever forward Queen Egbo and the WNBA free agent Chloe Jackson, both of whom played under Mulkey at Baylor from 2018 to 21 respectively, took to Twitter.

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