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NCAA suspends Kim Mulkey for next NCAA Tournament game for comments on officials

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We knew when Kim Mulkey said "I don't care if they fine me" that she'd probably be fined for the second time in three years for her criticism of officials, but I don't think anybody expected this. The NCAA embraced its role as mafia don this morning, handing down one of the harsher penalties in WBB history.

USA TODAY Sports

I don't think I have to tell you how I feel about the news that the NCAA has suspended Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey for her next NCAA Tournament game due to her post-game comments about the officials following this year's loss to Louisville, but I will: I'm only mildly surprised that the NCAA, which specializes in arbitrary ridiculousness, decided to be arbitrarily ridiculous.

On the one hand, she basically dared them to do something when she said that she welcomed all questions on the officials after that game and knew she would get fined. The NCAA cares deeply about appearances and couldn't allow her to say what she said without punishment. On the other, to ban her from her next game and deny Baylor's per diem for the regional round, though, is going too far. And not only because everything she said was true. Mulkey is the highest-profile coach ever punished in this manner, and it's not because she cheated or sought some kind of extra advantage, it's because she spoke out-- rightly-- against the NCAA's officials. The NCAA isn't trying to actually solve the problem of poor officiating in that game, but instead punish those who recognized it was poor and said something. The NCAA can't have that.

Putting aside the incredulity I continue to have about the fact that officials, who we know can directly affect the outcome of games and clearly get calls wrong often, are for some weird reason totally untouchable, the suspension itself probably doesn't mean all that much. Baylor will likely trounce its next first-round opponent in the NCAAs, anyway. Keeping Kim Mulkey out for that game is almost as meaningless as Scott Drew sitting out for Jacksonville State, or whoever it was last year. It's still dumb; however, and totally unnecessarily.

The part that really chaps me is the denial of Baylor's per diem for that round, since it is, in essence, a fine against the University for Mulkey's comments. Because Baylor, apparently, should have kept a better handle on Mulkey in that post-game press conference? That seems to be what the NCAA is saying in the most passive-aggressive way possible.

The only good thing I can draw from this is that it doesn't feel like the majority, at least so far, are against Mulkey on this one. Instead, it's playing out like so many situations before where the NCAA looks stupidly vindictive. So congratulations, NCAA, for that.