Kim Mulkey, the head coach of Baylor’s women’s basketball team, is very sorry that she advised violence against hypothetical parents expressing concern about the school’s epic mismanagement of a reported 52 rapes over four years committed by football players.
Following her 500th career victory recently, a fired-up Mulkey tried to defend the school by suggesting that anyone who hears a prospective parent refusing to send their daughter to Baylor should “knock them right in the face.” Her immediate attempts to defend the remarks involved telling reporters at the postgame presser to “move on” and claiming that “the problems we have at Baylor are no different than the problems at any other school in America.”
The backlash was swift and unequivocal. ESPN criticized Mulkey’s “unsolicited” defense of the school for the impact it could have on victims and due process.
Since then, she’s clarified the comments further and at the very least pantomimed some real remorse. In an interview with ESPNw, she said that the point about punching parents was “not literal.” She explained, “I was trying to make a point, to be firm in what you are saying back at them. I’m not a violent person. I apologize for the very poor choice of words.”
“Not only do I sympathize with victims, I am angry about the way victims were treated at this university,” Mulkey said. “It is horrible, horrible anytime someone does not take care of a victim. Even one sexual assault is too many. Nobody is dismissing what happened here. I want us to get to the bottom of it.”
“But I don’t think that everybody at Baylor should be put under an umbrella as all being a part of the things that happened. I can’t fathom anybody not helping someone who is a victim of that type of crime. I don’t condone it. My words [Saturday] did not express exactly what I was trying to say.”
After initially dodging direct question by directing reporters at post game pressers to the article, a visibly distraught Mulkey reiterated the sentiment at a news conference on Thursday.
“Awful things happened here,” she said. “We failed victims here. But I’m encouraged every day because I see what’s taking place to fix it.”
Mulkey seems genuine in her regret and aware that thoughtless comments can have damaging resonance. Ultimately, though, her apology hinges on a false claim that Baylor has responded to the allegations admirably. Even in apology, it seems, she can’t stop defending the indefensible.