BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Kim Mulkey, the coach of defending national champion LSU, is publicizing that she had two stents put in a major artery this summer as she tries to promote screening for life-threatening arterial blockages.
Mulkey, 61, was not having obvious symptoms of a blockage when she asked for imaging to check on a half-decade-old disc procedure in her neck, she said in recent media interviews.
That’s when a radiologist noticed what looked like arterial plaque buildup and told her to see a cardiologist, who determined there was a blockage of 95% to 99%.
Mulkey had stents put in by catheter in late June and has fully resumed coaching activities, overseeing the first practice for the 2023-24 season, which was open to fans.
“It’s not going to slow me down,” Mulkey told The Advocate of Baton Rouge. “I can’t do at 61 what I did at 23, but I’m good.”
This summer, the Hall of Fame coach agreed to a 10-year contract worth about $32 million that would have her calling out orders from the LSU bench through age 70.
But Mulkey stressed she had no idea while coaching the Tigers to a title last season that she was at risk for a heart attack, and still might not have known if the blockages had not been discovered while she was having an unrelated health matter evaluated.
“If I can get someone to get checked out, maybe it’ll save their life,” Mulkey said, noting her eating habits were not deemed to be the main cause of her blockage. “A lot of my issues were hereditary.”
Last season’s national title was Mulkey’s fourth as a head coach — the first three coming at Baylor, where she coached from 2000 to 2021. Her record at LSU in two seasons combined is 50-8, with NCAA Tournament appearances both years.
LSU enters this season as a national title favorite, led by returning star power forward Angel Reese and guard Hailey Van Lith, a graduate transfer from Louisville who led the Cardinals in scoring twice in the past three seasons.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll