Two things Kim Mulkey is quite familiar with: loyalty and paying dues.
Mulkey, now a NCAA championship-winning coach of Baylor, was a basketball phenom at Louisiana Tech, winning the Pomeroy Naismith award in 1984, which is given to the best player in the country.
With no professional basketball league to enter, Mulkey stayed in Ruston, Louisiana to be an assistant coach for the school where she became a legend.
Mulkey was on the coaching staff of Leon Barmore for an incredible 15 years, turning down three head coaching jobs in the process. She was loyal to the school and was in line to be the head coach when Barmore retired.
Mulkey was negotiating with the school’s athletic director and was looking for a five-year contract which would give her more security. She wasn’t asking for a big pay raise, just another year on the contract. The athletic director wouldn’t budge from the four-year deal he was offering.
An offer came from Baylor University and Mulkey took it. She thought she’d be rewarded by a school where she invested so much time, energy, and sweat-equity, but Louisiana Tech’s definition of loyalty was a bit different than Mulkey’s.
“It was the principle of, ‘If I’m not worth this after 19 years of my life, then this is what you’re probably trying to tell me: it’s time to move on,’ ” Mulkey said in an interview with ESPN.
It was a blessing in disguise for the former All-American point guard. She’s gone on to a highly-successful career with Baylor University and ranks as one of the highest-paid coaches in the game, making more than $2 million a year.
“Sometimes you thank God for unanswered prayers,” she told the Oklahoman.
Mulkey values loyalty, dedication, and commitment. But her lesson is: it may not be given back in return. There is nothing wrong with exploring other options that may lead to happiness and opportunities you never thought were possible.
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