Baylor is finally retiring Brittney Griner’s jersey.
The Bears will retire Griner’s No. 42 jersey into the rafters at Foster Pavilion in Waco when they host Texas Tech on Feb. 18, the school announced Monday. The Phoenix Mercury star led Baylor to a pair of Final Four appearances and an undefeated national championship run before she was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft.
"I'm honored to return home to Baylor and celebrate where so much of my journey started," Griner said in a statement. "I'm grateful to Coach Nicki [Collen] and the entire Baylor community and looking forward to the opportunity to be back on campus, spend time with the team and have my family beside me to share in this incredible moment. Sic 'Em Bears."
No. 42 is heading to the rafters in Waco this February 💜 pic.twitter.com/Rgsoi7wonk
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) January 29, 2024
— Baylor Women's Basketball (@BaylorWBB) January 29, 2024
Griner is undoubtedly one of the best athletes to ever play for Baylor. She racked up 3,283 points, now the fourth-most all time in Division I women’s basketball, and 1,305 rebounds there. She’s also the NCAA career leader with 748 blocked shots. The Bears reached the Final Four twice with Griner, and they went a perfect 40-0 while winning the national championship when she was a junior.
Griner, however, has had a strained relationship with the university since her departure — largely due to former head coach Kim Mulkey, who is now at LSU. Griner and Mulkey have had a tumultuous relationship, and they had a falling out near the end of Griner's collegiate career. She came out publicly as gay before the 2013 WNBA Draft and later said that she was encouraged to keep quiet about her sexuality at Baylor, which is a private Baptist university. Mulkey had long said that Griner couldn’t have her jersey retired until she graduated from Baylor, which she did in 2019.
Their relationship was brought back into the spotlight when Griner was detained in Russia for nearly a year in 2022. Mulkey was asked about Griner directly while she was in custody and awkwardly cut off a reporter mid-question to say she wouldn’t talk about it. She later issued a very brief statement about Griner’s release.
Mulkey, who spent 21 seasons coaching at Baylor, is now in her third season at LSU.
With Baylor now led by head coach Nicki Collen, Griner’s jersey is finally being retired in Waco. She will be the seventh women’s player in program history to have her jersey retired.
"I have been saying this since I arrived at Baylor that she deserves to have her jersey retired, and I wanted to make sure that happened when the timing was right," Collen said in a statement. "With the opening of Foster Pavilion and the WNBA offseason fitting into our season, this seemed like the right time to honor Brittney and welcome her back home.
"She is one of the best basketball players in Baylor's history, and we're thrilled that the time has come to celebrate Brittney and all of her accomplishments."