By Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer
For the second time in her 19-year career at Baylor, Lady Bears head coach Kim Mulkey has been named AP Coach of the Year.
Mulkey has brought her team to 16-straight NCAA tournaments and holds an overall record of 48-15 all-time in the tournament. Mulkey first received the award in 2012, which also marks the last time Baylor was at the Final Four and won the NCAA National Championship.
The award doesn’t come as a surprise to coaches who have faced the NCAA East Regional Champions. University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, who lost to the Baylor in the semifinals round (99-68) last weekend, said Mulkey is someone who has to be respected for all her and her team’s success.
“She’s one that’s been real. She says what she has to say. I just think that sometimes we lose sight of the contributions that people give to their respective universities and programs, and also just our game in general, and, you know, she is probably the last part of Coach [Pat] Summitt’s legacy,” Staley said. Summitt was Mulkey’s former coach, and the two shared a close bond as Mulkey transitioned to coaching herself. “If you really look at her record, I know they have had some games that have slipped away over the past few years, but if you look at her overall record, two Elite Eights, she’s won two or three SEC titles. I mean, I just feel like someone in our game, you have to respect what she’s done for it … I’m just someone who has been around women’s basketball for a long time and I know success when I see it and certainly her resumé, you can match up against the very best of our game as far as coaches.”
Known for leading the Lady Bears to a 35-1 season and the longest active Division I win-streak at 27, Mulkey’s career at Baylor has been nothing short of impressive. Coming up on her 20th year in Waco, the head coach hasn’t broken 100 losses yet (574-99) and holds a win average of 85%.
The head coach is the third overall most winningest DI coach in winning percentage behind Leon Barmore and Pat Summitt, and was the second quickest head coach to reach the 400 and 500-win milestone. Mulkey accomplished the 500-game win mark in 594 games, and took 13 years and 32 games for the 400 wins.
In 2005, Mulkey brought Waco the school’s first women’s NCAA championship, and the second in overall school history. Not only did Mulkey set a new dynamic and standard to women’s sports, but she also became the first person to win a basketball national championship as a former player, assistant coach and head coach.
Since then, Mulkey has clinched one more NCAA championship in 2012.
The Lady Bears’ have the opportunity to grab their third national title with two more wins this weekend — first facing Oregon at 6 p.m. Friday.