Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen hired to replace Kim Mulkey at Baylor

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Ryan Young
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Former Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen will take over for Kim Mulkey in Waco, Texas.

Baylor announced on Monday night that Collen will be the team’s next women's basketball head coach. The news came just a week after Mulkey — who won three national titles with the Bears and built a powerhouse program there — left for LSU.

"I am thrilled to be the head coach at Baylor University. I believe it is the top job in the country for women's basketball," Collen said in a statement. "I am excited to begin working with this extremely talented team and I am grateful for the unwavering support of [university president Linda] Livingstone and [athletic director] Mack Rhoades. The success of this program speaks for itself, and I will begin working today to ensure Baylor women's basketball continues to be a program that excels at the highest levels."

Collen, 45, spent three seasons with the Dream and led the team to the semifinals during her first season at the helm and won the league’s Coach of the Year honors. She finished with a 38-52 overall record there, but went just 7-15 last season.

Head coach Nicki Collen of the Atlanta Dream
With Nicki Collen headed to Waco, the Atlanta Dream now don't have a head coach less than two weeks from the start of the 2021 season. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Collen spent nine seasons as an assistant at the collegiate level before taking the Dream’s top job — six of which with head coach Tom Collen, her husband, at Colorado State, Louisville and Arkansas. Nicki Collen also worked as an assistant on Curt Miller’s staff with the Connecticut Sun. The job at Baylor will be her first as a head coach in college.

“Nicki is a passionate leader of young women and an elite basketball mind and teacher of the game," Rhoades said in a statement. "She is a great mission fit who shares in our vision of preparing 'champions for life' by commanding excellence both on and off the court.

“Nicki's professional experience will be invaluable to developing players for the next level. Her addition sustains our commitment to the women's basketball program at the highest level.”

Atlanta Dream now looking for head coach, GM

Collen leaving for Baylor now leaves the Dream without a head coach less than two weeks before the 2021 season kicks off — and a day after the team’s first preseason game.

The Dream also fired president and general manager Chris Sienko last month after three seasons as the team’s president. Sienko was named the WNBA’s Executive of the Year in 2018, though the Dream went only 15-41 the next two seasons.

That move to fire Sienko came months after former guard Renee Montgomery purchased the team with an investment group after a tumultuous ending with the team’s old co-owner and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. He selected Aari McDonald with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft days before he was let go.

The Dream are set to open their season on May 14 against the Sun. Atlanta announced assistant coach Mike Petersen will be the interim head coach.

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