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Brittney Griner Claims College Coach Told Her To Hide Sexuality

In a new interview with ESPN, Brittney Griner has revealed that Baylor University head coach Kim Mulkey asked her to conceal the fact that she was gay and claimed that not doing so might jeopardize recruitment for the team. 

BritESPN reports:

In a series of interviews -- including one on camera Friday -- for an ESPN The Magazine and story set to hit newsstands later this month, Griner said her silence during college was because Mulkey and her staff were concerned about the program's image.

"It was more of a unwritten law [to not discuss your sexuality] ... it was just kind of, like, one of those things, you know, just don't do it," Griner said Friday. "They kind of tried to make it, like, 'Why put your business out on the street like that?'" 

But Griner reiterated on Friday that her sexuality was an open secret at Baylor.

"I told Coach [Mulkey] when she was recruiting me. I was like, 'I'm gay. I hope that's not a problem,' and she told me that it wasn't," Griner said. "I mean, my teammates knew, obviously they all knew. Everybody knew about it."

Watch the ESPN interview with Griner, in which she addresses the above, AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. Negative recruiting has been standard in women's college sports for decades. It's a problem in the entire industry.

    Posted by: Steve | May 19, 2013 5:49:12 PM

  2. I personally don't believe this. Women have it MUCH easier than men when it comes to sexuality.

    Towleroad needs to stick to male homosexuality-related issues. Attitudes to male homosexuality are the definitive test, attitudes to female homosexuality aren't.

    Posted by: Adam | May 19, 2013 6:04:13 PM

  3. Not hugely surprising, given that she was attending what is practically a Bible college. Having always assumed she was gay and with her having to know about a previous incident with a gay player who left the Baylor team, I always wondered why she picked Baylor over the other teams that wanted her (ie, everyone).

    Posted by: chris | May 19, 2013 6:18:33 PM

  4. Mr. Towle, please remove the trolls' comments. Thanks.

    Posted by: Everyone | May 19, 2013 6:18:58 PM

  5. @chris
    This isn't just confined to Christian colleges. Far from it. Check out the "Training Rules" documentary about Penn State coach Rene Portland for example (also look her up on Wikipedia).

    Posted by: Steve | May 19, 2013 6:22:19 PM

  6. And yet Griner stayed at Baylor? I guess it's difficult to expect a kid in that tough of a situation to do a grown-up thing, but Mulkey would still be trying to pull my foot out of her vadge if she'd said that to me.

    Posted by: Rick | May 19, 2013 6:23:19 PM

  7. I guess trying to keep that secret with a straight face is what caused Mulky's face to palsy, huh.

    Posted by: David Hearne | May 19, 2013 6:26:49 PM

  8. Here is a great article on the issue of negative recruiting and homophobia in women's sports:

    It's very pervasive. Basically some colleges warn parents that some other college has a reputation for having lesbians on the team. Or they advertise themselves with buzzwords like "family oriented". This also has a very negative effect on female coaches. There is only one out lesbian basketball coach.

    Posted by: Steve | May 19, 2013 6:28:33 PM

  9. Adam:
    Baylor University is a private, Baptist college. Even allowing that "women have it better" in sports, gays at Baylor DO NOT have it better by any stretch of the imagination. Baylor may turn a blind eye to Griner's lesbianism unofficially (she is a star basketball player, after all, and here in Texas, championships are everything), officially, the school's position is fairly anti-gay campus-wide. Mulkey also does most of her recruiting here in Texas, and women's basketball coaches are (and, some would say, must be) extremely sensitive to how their programs are perceived, because many of the prep girls don't want to be associated with programs where lesbians are operating above-ground (as Steve says in his comment above).

    It sucks, I know, but that's how life is.

    Posted by: Jerry | May 19, 2013 6:37:36 PM

  10. I think Adam is spot on.

    It's EFFING TEXAS!!!!!!!!!!` "Do anything you want, but don't let it be known, just act like we are all perfect Christians."
    This is the only big State where the Pew pole showed young people are against marriage equality -- NOT because they necessarily are, but because in Texas you pretend to go along with the morality

    Posted by: Bob | May 19, 2013 6:52:22 PM

  11. Britney went to Baylor because Baylor is one of the top women's basketball programs in the country. It's also close to home for her and a great university. Sic em!

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | May 19, 2013 6:53:10 PM

  12. @Bob -- I hope you mean 'Pew Poll'. I can think of a few possible definitions for 'Pew Pole' but none apply in your intended context.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | May 19, 2013 7:52:58 PM

  13. Adam can't even troll well. How pathetic. Rick/Jason/Ratbastard/David Hearne/Adam/Uffda is really quite terrible at this.

    Posted by: MateoM | May 19, 2013 8:03:16 PM

  14. If Brittney had strong principles, she would not have chosen to play for Baylor. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's sell-out lesbians.

    Posted by: Adam | May 19, 2013 8:08:37 PM

  15. Can we just back the f*ck up for a moment? It would be a safe bet 60% - 80% of the women who play sports are NOT heterosexual.

    I get really sick of seeing the LGBT community get whitewashed as much as possible by society. For once it'd be nice if we could just have one day where if an musician/actor/etc are gay in real life then we would see that reflected in the media. According to TV commercials, for example, gay people don't even exist.

    Posted by: Michael | May 19, 2013 8:23:52 PM

  16. @Michael
    No it wouldn't be a safe bet. Your stupid stereotyping is precisely the issue here. People just assume that most sportswomen are gay when that simply isn't true.

    And contrary what some idi0ts think that doesn't make it easier for the ones who are gay. A personal level, yes, women have it easier than men. But the public reaction can be just as bad. Which is precisely why teams force female players and coaches to not come out publicly. And why new players are warned away from teams that have lesbian coaches and players.

    Posted by: Steve | May 19, 2013 9:03:55 PM

  17. This is no surprise. This happens regularly in male and female sports. For different reasons but with the same purpose and mentality---a disapproval of homosexuality. Many students who are out at the high school level are essentially forced, by recruiters, by college coaches, by their HS coaches, to remain closeted through the process of recruitment and through college. They tell these students that being out of the closet will harm them in recruiting and will harm their ability to perform and will cause unwanted attention onto the team and program.

    In women's sports, the stereotype all of the ladies are lesbians is one of the major reasons why there's hostility against homosexuality. Because it's not true. And because they don't want to be "implicated" as gay, they end up avoiding teams with gay players/coaches on them. Coaches that are lesbians aren't hired or aren't promoted to high roles. Lesbian players are told to remain closeted. Advertisements go out of their way to promote femininity and play up the sex angle to distance themselves from the perception that their sport is made up of lesbians, and to bring in straight male attention.

    I'm with you Michael---I'm VERY tired of seeing society try to pretend we don't exist, or that we do exist but as some far-outside-the-mainstream fringe group. And basically us not treated as normal. It's getting better on this front, but it's still not good enough. It's a symptom of living in a heterosexist world.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | May 19, 2013 9:22:22 PM

  18. I am far too familiar with the vile Portland, Steve, and have seen the heartbreaking "Training Rules." I know negative recruiting exists (it's directed at the program I support, in fact) and I was not saying anything about that broad issue. My point is that Griner specifically chose to attend a bigoted, backward institution so it can't have been too big of a surprise that the institution expected her to follow its bigoted, backward rules.

    Posted by: chris | May 19, 2013 9:45:30 PM

  19. Comments are comments. Are we all such delicate flowers? And if anyone else says "spot on" again, I'm going to start saying I "dig" things.

    Posted by: AmazingRace | May 20, 2013 12:05:14 AM

  20. "Attitudes to male homosexuality are the definitive test, attitudes to female homosexuality aren't."

    Test of what, Adam? Your sexism? 99% of "Lesbian" mentions on the internet are (male-created) porn. Are just a FEW stories on a "site with homosexual tendencies" too much to ask for?

    Posted by: JCF | May 20, 2013 2:26:13 AM

  21. "Attitudes to male homosexuality are the definitive test, attitudes to female homosexuality aren't."

    Test of what, Adam? Your sexism? 99% of "Lesbian" mentions on the internet are (male-created) porn. Are just a FEW stories on a "site with homosexual tendencies" too much to ask for?

    Posted by: JCF | May 20, 2013 2:26:13 AM

  22. I suspect that some of this is the sports media trying to gin up a story. Though pretty much everyone "knew" that Griner is a lesbian, the sports media's official reaction at the draft was "surprise!" I think some of what ESPN is doing here is ex post facto rationalization: "here's why we didn't know Griner was gay: her coach told her to shut up about it." Eh, I'm not convinced. By all accounts, Griner was happy at Baylor, and she and the team had unprecedented success. I don't get the feeling that Griner was forced into doing anything regarding her public persona that she didn't want to do. I could be wrong about that. But what Griner is describing about her coach's "unwritten rule" is pretty normal in collegiate women's athletics (not that it should be normal; but it's hardly a scandal to hang around Mulkey's neck).

    As for why she'd choose to go to Baylor - Mulkey is an extremely successful coach and a great recruiter. Most elite female high school basketball players would give their eye teeth for a scholarship offer from Mulkey and Baylor. There's very little reason to think that the environment at UCONN, Tennessee, or anywhere else she might have been considering would have been any different, in my opinion.

    Posted by: dws | May 20, 2013 2:48:51 AM

  23. Nice for her to expose the dirty little secret of the NCAA regarding sexuality and recruiting. The student athlete should also be paid for generating millions for the school.

    Posted by: DC Arnold | May 20, 2013 7:20:52 AM

  24. you guys are having a great discussion on sexuality in sports, especially female sexuality, and the problems of coming out which shouldn't exist.

    However, I still cannot understand what religions are doing running sports or even colleges for that matter.
    What's going on ?
    Is there another freakish passage in the bible /koran/mormon which says ; 'Thou shalt run schools/colleges.'
    Let the religions get back to feeding the poor, housing the homeless and clothing the naked.
    Running Basketball teams seems unsupported by Jesus.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | May 20, 2013 9:12:09 AM

  25. David Hearne, what's your excuse?

    Posted by: ChristopherM | May 20, 2013 9:54:07 AM

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