BATON ROUGE, La. — Brittney Griner continues to receive support as she serves her nine-year sentence in Russia following her conviction last month. The showing of solidarity went into overdrive earlier this week when her former head coach at Baylor University, Kim Mulkey, opted not to speak on her detainment in Russia, causing backlash for the current Louisiana State University women’s head basketball coach.

“I just wanted to get your thoughts on the Brittney Griner situation, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything from you on that,” a reporter asked Mulkey at a press briefing, during which she responded by cutting him off and saying, “And you won’t.”

The Nimitz High School standout went on to Baylor University, where she played for the women’s basketball team from 2009 to 2013. As a Lady Bear, Griner helped her team win a national championship during the 2011-2012 season with an undefeated season of 40-0. During her collegiate years, the Associated Press named her Player of the Year twice, and from 2011 to 2013, she was dubbed the Big 12 Player of the Year. While in Waco, Griner made it known in previous interviews that she did not feel welcome to disclose her sexuality despite being openly gay.

"It was a recruiting thing," Griner said during an interview with ESPN The Magazine and espnW back in 2013. "The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids come play for Baylor."

Mulkey and Griner’s relationship eventually became estranged, according to reports. In her memoir, "In My Skin," Griner made it clear the university did not support gay athletes except for when it benefited them on the field or on the basketball court, in Griner’s case.

"I would love to be an ambassador for Baylor, to show my school pride, but it's hard to do that…,” she wrote. “I've spent too much of my life being made to feel like there's something wrong with me. And no matter how much support I felt as a basketball player at Baylor, it still doesn't erase all the pain I felt there."

After Mulkey’s comments went viral, former Lady Bears went on Twitter to voice their displeasure with her silence. Queen Egbo, the 2022 WNBA first-round draft pick and former center at Baylor, encouraged potential student athletes to do their due diligence when selecting their school of choice.

“A player that built Baylor, 2 national titles, & a 40-0 record. Yet her former coach refuses to say anything or simply just show any kind of support. Keep that in mind when you’re choosing schools," Egbo wrote. 

From 2018 to 2019, Chloe Jackson played for the Lady Bears. She also expressed her concerns on the social media platform.

“And I will say it again,” she tweeted. “Silence speaks volumes, smh.”

Not even 24 hours after Mulkey’s comment, current Baylor University women’s head basketball coach Nicki Collen spoke about Griner for nearly five minutes in a press conference.

“I didn’t coach her, but I coached against her a lot,” she said. “I game planned for her and when you spend a summer in the bubble at IMG, you get to know everybody. And she was one of the first people to reach out to me when I got this job and she was super excited about me getting the job, about us getting her back here, the goals to get her jersey retired and hanging in the rafters.”

She told journalists that the 6-foot-8 center made Baylor University a household name, adding that her detainment in Russia remained a human rights issue.

“I think we know 10 years is a long time and I see her as a mother, as a sister, as a spouse, as the daughter, as an unbelievable ambassador for the game of basketball,” she said.

Collen said that returning Griner home should be of utmost importance.

On Feb. 17, authorities arrested Griner for allegedly having vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in luggage they searched at the Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow. The judge handed down a sentence of nine years in prison on Aug. 4 in a Russian courtroom for that charge.

“BG’s family,” she said. “She’s Baylor family to me. Anything we can do to help her and her family is important.”