LSU 'has a chance' of hiring Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey, but it will be expensive

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey encourages her team during the first half against Notre Dame in the Final Four championship game of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

LSU could be hiring three-time national champion Kim Mulkey as its next women's basketball coach as early as Monday, an LSU Board of Supervisors member said Sunday.

"It has a chance of happening," board member Collis Temple Jr. said. "LSU people have been in contact with her. The question is can her salary demand be adequately funded."

Mulkey, 58, makes $2.27 million a year at Baylor, according to USA TODAY's salary database. Previous LSU women's basketball coach Nikki Fargas made $711,988 this past season, according to LSU's salary report for 2020-21.

LSU confirmed Saturday that Fargas was leaving after her 10th season.

"There will be a lot of pressure on a lot of people at LSU if LSU agrees to pay her what she deserves," Temple said. "And LSU would have to give her more than what she is making now."

Mulkey's Baylor salary is already more than any coach at LSU other than men's basketball coach Will Wade at $2.5 million and football coach Ed Orgeron at $6.8 million. LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri makes $1.1 million.

LSU athletic director Scott Woodward has been working hard to make the hire, Temple said.

"That's what Scott gets paid for," Temple said. "He has to convince the powers at LSU that LSU needs to make that move in women's basketball."

Former LSU basketball player Collis Temple Jr. (right), who is now a member of LSU's Board of Supervisors, congratulates LSU athletic director Scott Woodward at his introductory press conference in April of 2019.

Former LSU basketball player Jordy Hultberg, who hosts a daily radio show in Lafayette, spoke to Mulkey last week about appearing on his show on Monday.

"I'll be busy that day," Hultberg said Mulkey told him.

Mulkey did not return attempts to reach her Sunday, and Woodward was not available for comment.

When asked if a press conference has been scheduled with Mulkey at LSU on Monday, Temple said he was not sure.

For Woodward, who makes $1.1 million a year, it would be the first significant hire since he left the Texas A&M athletic director job for LSU two years ago this month.

Women's basketball at LSU has operated at a yearly loss of several million dollars, Temple said, as is the case at other programs around the country.

"What is under consideration is if LSU wants to make the type of commitment to hire someone like Mulkey and lose more money," Temple said. "And at 58 years old, can Kim still relate with 17- and 18-year-old kids and get them to come to LSU? Nick Saban still can, and he's almost 70."

Saban, 69, won his sixth national championship at Alabama last season and won the national title at LSU in the 2003 season.

LSU does have one bargaining chip it could exploit. Mulkey would be coming home. She grew up just 47 miles from the LSU campus in Tickfaw near Hammond.

A superstar point guard, she led Hammond High to four state championships from 1977-80. Then she helped take Louisiana Tech to national championships in 1981 and '82 before serving as a Lady Techsters assistant coach from 1985-2000 until moving on to Baylor.

Mulkey's son, Kramer Robertson, was a star shortstop on LSU's last team to reach the College World Series in 2017 when it reached the national championship. Mulkey, who has family in the Hammond area, frequently attended Robertson's games.

Mulkey won national championships at Baylor in 2005, 2012 and 2019. She finished 27-3 last season, won the Big 12 Conference for the 11th straight time, her 12th overall, before reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, which Mulkey has reached 19 of 21 times since becoming Baylor's coach in 2000. The Lady Bears went to the women's NIT in 2003, and there was no NCAA Tournament in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Mulkey's career coaching record at Baylor is 631-104 (.859) and 291-61 (.827) in the Big 12.

LSU has not been to a Final Four since 2008 under coach Van Chancellor. Coach Pokey Chatman's teams reached three straight Final Fours from 2005-07 after coach Sue Gunter's led her team to the program's first Final four in 2004.

Fargas reached five NCAA Tournaments but never advanced past the Sweet 16 round and had not been since 2017. LSU was 9-13 and 6-8 in the SEC this past season.