Former Baylor women’s basketball star Brittney Griner says that Kim Mulkey, her college head coach, told players not to be open publicly about their sexuality because it would hurt recruiting and look bad for the program.
“It was a recruiting thing,” Griner said during an interview with ESPN The Magazine and espnW. “The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn’t let their kids come play for Baylor.”
Griner, now preparing for her first WNBA season with the Phoenix Mercury, casually acknowledged she was gay during interviews with USA Today and with SI.com last month, when she referred to herself as “someone who has always been open.” Griner said she had been open about her sexuality with family and friends since she was a freshman at Nimitz High School in Houston.
In a series of interviews — including one on camera Friday — for an ESPN The Magazine and espnW.com story set to hit newsstands later this month, Griner said her silence during college was because Mulkey and her staff were concerned about the program’s image.
“It was more of a unwritten law [to not discuss your sexuality] … it was just kind of, like, one of those things, you know, just don’t do it,” Griner said Friday. “They kind of tried to make it, like, ‘Why put your business out on the street like that?'”
But Griner reiterated on Friday that her sexuality was an open secret at Baylor.
“I told Coach [Mulkey] when she was recruiting me. I was like, ‘I’m gay. I hope that’s not a problem,’ and she told me that it wasn’t,” Griner said. “I mean, my teammates knew, obviously they all knew. Everybody knew about it.”
Baylor University, a private Baptist school located in Waco, Texas, has a “Statement on Human Sexuality” in its student handbook. Located under the label “Sexual Misconduct,” it says that “Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.”
The University also encourages students “struggling with these issues” to consult either the Spiritual Life Office or the Baylor University Counseling.
When asked Saturday to comment on Griner’s recruiting remarks, Baylor referred to a statement it issued to ESPN The Magazine and espnW on behalf of Mulkey earlier this month. The coach declined to comment specifically, but said in the statement: “Brittney Griner represented Baylor University proudly on and off the basketball court, and she leaves behind an incredible legacy. I cannot comment on personal matters surrounding any of our student-athletes, but I can tell you Brittney will always be a celebrated member of the Baylor family.”