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How Clean Is Women’s Hoops? Listen to the Players

Compared to the shenanigans in men’s basketball, the women’s game is relatively clean, writes Sally Jenkins in Sunday’s Washington Post. But NCAA rules violations announced last week against Baylor University, the reigning women’s national champions, could signal the moment when the women’s game lost its way, Jenkins says.

No disrespect to Jenkins, but if you listen to the players, women’s basketball already has some of the biggest problems of any sport–and coaches are largely responsible. According to a 2010 NCAA survey of nearly 20,000 college athletes across all sports and divisions, women’s basketball players singled out their coaches as a primary source of their dissatisfaction with the sport: More than a third of the Division I players surveyed said they had been contacted too often during the recruiting process, and just 39 percent of players—the lowest percentage across all sports—said they “strongly agreed” that they could trust their coach.

Jenkins describes Baylor’s coach, Kim Mulkey, as the standard-bearer of the women’s game. “Because Mulkey is at the top of the game, every other coach in the country will now imitate her. All of her peers will treat the rules the way she treats them.”

It sounds to me like many coaches have already been following her script.

[Photo of Mulkey courtesy of NCAA.com]

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