Kim Mulkey sent shockwaves through the women’s basketball world at the end of the year by leaving Baylor University after 21 years to become the new female basketball coach at LSU. Not surprisingly, it did not take long before one of the most prestigious programs in the country found a replacement. On Monday, Baylor announced that current Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen will be the new head coach of the Lady Bears. She will be officially introduced at a ceremony on Wednesday at the team’s arena.
“I’m excited to be head coach at Baylor University,” Collen said in a statement. “I think it’s the top job in the country for women’s basketball. I’m excited to start working with this extremely talented team and I’m grateful for the unwavering support of President Livingstone and Mack Rhoades. The success of this program speaks for itself. himself and I will start working today to ensure that Baylor’s women’s basketball remains a program that excels at the highest levels. “
As Collen noted, Baylor has had plenty of success over the last two decades and there will be high standards for her to maintain. The Lady Bears have made 17 straight NCAA tournaments, and they have reached at least Sweet 16 in 15 of those years. They have also made four Final Fours and won three national championships, most recently in 2019.
While this rental is big news on the collegiate scene, it also has big implications in the WNBA world. Collen has served as head coach for Dream for the past three seasons and won this year’s WNBA coach in 2018. Training camps for the 2021 season began just over a week ago, the opening day is less than two weeks away, and all of a sudden the dream is without a head coach . It is worth noting that they also do not have a GM or team president after firing Chris Sienko last month.
Following the announcement, Dream released a statement thanking Collen and announcing Mike Petersen as interim head coach.
“We are grateful to Nicki Collen for her hard work in coaching the dream for the past three years,” the statement said. “We wish her every success at Baylor University. At this time, we are excited to announce the promotion of Mike Petersen from assistant coach to interim head coach who will work closely with assistant coach Darius Taylor. They are invaluable members of the Atlanta Dream family, and we look forward to their leadership of the team this season. “
In the middle of the training camp, it is of course not an ideal time to start a job search, and it is currently not clear how long Petersen will remain in charge. Atlanta has scheduled a preseason game Wednesday against the Washington Mystics and will host the Connecticut Sun in their regular season opener on May 14th.