Louisiana State University won its first NCAA Women’s Basketball title on Sunday, capping off the most-watched NCAA Women’s Tournament in history. And in addition to dissecting the on-court drama, fans also have plenty of opinions about LSU coach’s Kim Mulkey’s outfits.
In a heated match up, the LSU Tigers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 to win the national championship, led by Mulkey, who wore a bold tiger-striped pantsuit seen in pink, gold and black sequins for the occasion.
The team leader has been described sports critics as divisive, flamboyant, intense. And this weekend’s trophy marks her fourth national title as a head coach. (She won three championships at Baylor.)
Along with her no-nonsense approach, Mulkey is using her platform to make a statement with her fashion. From feathers to butterfly motifs, the coach is turning heads and making headlines, which only brings more eyes to women’s basketball — a sport that continues to be in the shadows of its male counterpart as far as media attention is concerned.
However, that’s changing.
Per ESPN, across its platforms, the two women’s NCAA tournament semifinal games averaged 4.5 million viewers, up 66% from last season’s Final Four games, for instance. The Final Four game between Iowa and South Carolina averaged 5.5 million viewers, the most for a semifinal on ESPN networks and the most-viewed college basketball game (men’s or women’s) on ESPN since 2008. (The ratings for Sunday’s night championship game on ABC have not been disclosed.)
For LSU’s final four appearance last week against Virginia Tech Hokies, Mulkey wowed in a bubblegum pink blazer with hibiscus flower detailing on the arms, paired with white pants and matching pumps.
“Those that come because of basketball, forget what I wear on the sideline, look at the product on the floor. Don’t make what I wear bigger than what’s on that floor and what I have done X’s and O’s-wise as a coach,” she told USA Today in a recent interview. “But if me wearing their jackets and things like that helps them but it also sells one more ticket or puts one more set of eyeballs on our game, so be it.”
For the South Carolina head coach, Dawn Staley, her sideline style is also far from the “norm.” She’s pushing boundaries on what women are expected to wear, like the time she won the 2022 National Championship wearing a Louis Vuitton varsity jacket and matching LV-adorned sneakers. During this year’s March Madness tournament, Staley threw the typical pantsuit and heels uniform out the window yet again and wore another Louis Vuitton bomber jacket paired with wide-legged pants and sneakers.