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Baylor coach Kim Mulkey advocates for no COVID testing for players in Final Four

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey talks to her players in a huddle on the sideline.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey talks to her players during Monday’s game against Connecticut in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

Kim Mulkey will not be coaching in the Final Four.

But that didn’t stop the Baylor coach from offering unsolicited and rather controversial advice for the final weekend of play in the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments:

Stop the COVID testing.

Mulkey delivered her message Monday night during a news conference following the Bears’ season-ending 69-67 loss to Connecticut.

No foul was called following apparent contact on Baylor’s final shot.

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A reporter asked Mulkey about the non-call, expressing surprise that no whistle was blown. Mulkey responded: “Then write it like that. You don’t need a quote from me.”

But the coach did have plenty to say on a topic no one had brought up.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin’s father, Hep, has taken some of the spotlight during the Bruins’ run in the NCAA tournament.

“You know, I want to say this to all of you,” Mulkey said. “I don’t think my words will matter, but after the games today and tomorrow, there’s four teams left, I think, on the men’s side and the women’s side.

“They need to dump the COVID testing. Wouldn’t it be a shame to keep COVID testing and then you got kids that end up having 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 let the four teams playing in each Final Four go battle it out.”

Last year, the men’s and women’s tournaments were canceled because of the pandemic.

Mulkey has coached the Bears in four Final Fours, with Baylor emerging as national champions three times (2005, 2012, 2019). So she knows what an amazing experience that can be.

But she also contracted COVID-19 earlier this year, which led to the cancellation of Baylor’s regular-season game against Connecticut. So she knows what a harrowing experience that can be.

USC will need all the firepower it can get, starting with Evan Mobley, if it’s going to have a chance against undefeated Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.

“COVID is real. I’ve had it — come talk to me sometime,” she said upon returning to the court in January.

In the end, though, she’s probably right about at least one thing — her words won’t matter, and the eight teams playing next weekend will be tested.


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