Baylor Bears College basketball coach Kim Mulkey has faced a backlash after calling for Covid testing to be scrapped ahead of the NCAA March Madness Final Four.
Mulkey’s comments were made after her team, seeded number two, were eliminated by top-ranked rivals UConn in Texas on Monday evening.
But even though her Bears did not advance, Mulkey still had strong opinions on how organizers should proceed with the tournament.
“After the games today and tomorrow, there’s four teams left, I think, on the men’s side and the women’s side,” Mulkey began.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she said: “They need to dump the Covid testing. Wouldn’t it be a shame to keep Covid testing and then you got kids that test positive or something and they don’t get to play in the Final Four?
“So you just need to forget the Covid tests and get the four teams playing in each Final Four and go battle it out.”
Only one match of the tournament, held at separate sites in Texas and Indiana for women and men, has been blighted by the virus so far.
Both players and staff have received daily tests too, with just a pair of confirmed positive cases across the women’s game despite 15,400 being completed.
Mulkey has personally suffered from the disease, catching it from a family member over the Christmas holidays.
She previously slammed authorities for prioritizing financial gain over health and well-being when asked if the season would be completed during a pandemic.
“The answer is this: The season will continue on. It’s called the almighty dollar,” said Mulkey. “The NCAA has to have the almighty dollar from the men’s tournament. The almighty dollar is more important than the health and welfare of me, the players or anybody else.
“One conference does this, one conference does that. The CDC says this. Everybody is confused. I’m confused. I’m uncomfortable coaching. I understand, Covid is real. I’ve had it – come talk to me sometime. But I don’t know… all the calls and procedures, that’s gonna go on and make it unusual, uncomfortable for every program. We’re no different at Baylor.”
Mulkey has received widespread backlash for her unprovoked thoughts. Writing for USA Today, Nancy Armour started by saying: “Someone needs to remind Baylor coach Kim Mulkey that the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over”.
“To suggest that a basketball game, even one in the Final Four or for the national title, is more important than a player or coach’s health is as troubling as it is ignorant. Mulkey, of all people, should know better, having had Covid herself in January.”
“We’re all tired of Covid and the restrictions necessary to prevent its spread, and it’s getting harder and harder to be vigilant as vaccinations become more common and a return to normal is in sight. But for Mulkey to suggest that it should no longer be taken seriously is mind-boggling.”
Other pundits and fans on Twitter agreed.
“Of course a coach who makes $2.27 million a year thinks kids who make $0 a year shouldn’t be tested for Covid before the Final Four. Be better @kimmulkey,” wrote one user.
The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill dragged in politics, claiming that somehow Mulkey’s trip with her team to Donald Trump’s White House was a factor.
“So unsolicited, and after a great performance by her team, Kim Mulkey suggested they stop testing the players for Covid because this inconvenient little pandemic might interfere with the Final Four. Then again, she enthusiastically took her team to see Trump in the White House,” Hill wrote.
So unsolicited, and after a great performance by her team, Kim Mulkey suggested they stop testing the players for COVID because this inconvenient little pandemic might interfere with the Final Four.Then again, she enthusiastically took her team to see Trump in the White House. https://t.co/BwEWa3i4Ip
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) March 30, 2021
Last night’s game, edged 69-67 by UConn, was marred by controversy on court too.
DiJonai Carrington scored 22 points overall, and when a foul by Olivia Nelson-Ododa to block her shot wasn’t called, NBA legend LeBron James stepped into a viral row.
Mulkey was probed on the incident as well, and caused further bemusement through her face mask struggles while giving an answer.