About three quarters of the way through her opening statement, Kim Mulkey asked five of LSU women’s basketball players to stand up and look at the women's basketball banners in the PMAC behind them.
“Final Four, Final Four, Final Four,” Mulkey rattled off. “Nowhere there does it say National Champion. That’s what I came here to do.”
Not only was Monday an introduction to the newest basketball coach in Baton Rouge but it was a homecoming of sorts. Mulkey, who grew up in nearby Tickfaw, Louisiana, where she would eventually go on to star as a player and coach at Louisiana Tech, had her entire family, including son and former baseball star Kramer Robertson in attendance.
The decision to leave Baylor, where Mulkey won three national championships during her 21-year career, was a difficult one. In fact, there’s only one job she said that could’ve possibly lured her away from Waco, that was returning home to Louisiana and LSU. She's missed crawfish, poboys and Louisiana strawberries but most importantly she missed home.
"It's good to be back home," Mulkey said. "I had many opportunites to leave [while at Baylor] but this is the only that could get me to leave. Thank you for bringing me back home. LSU is a very prideful institution that wants to win championships. I can assure you I didn't just come back here to win championships. I came here to make an impact at the right time at an institution that needs something very positive."
The decision to leave Baylor for the LSU job happened pretty quickly. Mulkey said she and athletic director Scott Woodward had a 10 minute conversation early last week, a follow up call in the middle of the week, with Mulkey making her final decision on Sunday afternoon.
From the beginning, Mulkey had a list of questions she wanted answered, with Woodward and LSU delivering on all. She knew it wouldn't take much persuasion of her family to make the move back to her home state. In fact her son, Kramer Robertson, was the last one she called to tell him the news of LSU's interest. It took about 10 seconds for Robertson to let his feelings known on her taking the job.
National championships are the goal but Mulkey reminded everyone in attendance and watching online that it won't happen over night. The immediate steps are getting to know her players and better learn how the roster can be improved.
She didn't go into much detail about roster additions in the coming months through the transfer portal, though she is bringing much of her staff from Baylor with her. Mulkey prides herself as a passionate coach on the court but developing players is a priority each and every day.
"Give it time, give it time but I can assure you that's what I came here to do," Mulkey said. "I did not evaluate the talent on this roster before I took the job. My job is to develop players and I know the job that me and my coaching staff can do. I can take a team and make them better each day and as we work with them, we'll be able to decide strengths and weaknesses, what we need and get the best talent we can to represent LSU."
The roster details will be hammered out in due time. To truly capture just how positively this hire has taken to the LSU community, Mulkey revealed during the press conference that 600 new season tickets had been purchased in the 24 hours since the hiring became official.
It's a good sign of the already changing feelings about the women's basketball program and what this team can achieve under Mulkey's guidance.
"I do coach with passion, I do coach with intensity, but I think I learned that from the great state of Louisiana," Mulkey said. "We're fighters here. I'm going to fight for my team, for LSU and I'll always fight and defend the state of Louisiana."