A Baylor University professor criticized the university for failing to bring enough awareness to Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia.
The WNBA All-Star and Baylor grad was recently transferred to a penal colony in a remote part of Russia. She will be serving her nine-year sentence for charges of drug trafficking levied against her for bringing trace amounts of cannabis oil to a Moscow airport.
Professor of literature and culture Greg Garrett said he has followed Griner’s legal case.
“When she was sentenced and sent to prison this week, I was like, ‘oh my God, I can’t believe that this is happening,'” he wrote in an article for Baptist News Global.
He said Baylor’s relative silence “about one of her most famous students is saddening.”
“It feels like a failure to me and I don’t want to indict any single person, but it’s there from the regents all the way down except for Baylor’s current head coach,” Garrett wrote. “It seems nobody seems to be speaking out for her and that disturbs me.”
Garrett noted that while he did not personally teach Griner at Baylor, he remembers her fondly.
“She had this habit of riding down the avenue on her longboard and it is one of my favorite memories of Baylor,” he said.
Garrett said Griner was hard not to recognize with her 6’9″ height and extraordinary skills on the basketball court.
“Her physical gifts were astonishing, so everybody was aware of that,” he said. “When she came to Baylor there was this sense of destinies were colliding because Baylor had this amazing basketball team and Brittney was maybe this once-in-a-lifetime talent.”
In 2012, Griner led Baylor to an undefeated season and national championship.
“That has never been replicated,” Garrett said.
He suggested that Baylor’s private Christian university status is why it has not taken an active stance in bringing awareness to Griner’s detention, noting her National Anthem protest and sexuality.
“Baylor’s head coach Kim Mulkey had asked her to keep it on the down low, don’t let the world know about your sexuality, and she did not officially come out until the WNBA draft in 2013,” he said. “We need to reach out and do everything we can to get her back home. We have to support her and stand up for her and let her know that she is not alone and she is not forgotten.”
Garrett added that he hopes the Biden administration can make a prisoner exchange happen soon.
Baylor University provided the following statement to The Dallas Express:
“Brittney Griner is and always will be a member of the Baylor Family. We remain deeply concerned for her health, safety and well-being. Throughout her detainment, high-ranking Baylor officials have been in contact with those close to Brittney, as well as with appropriate elected and government officials. In addition, on several occasions Baylor has expressed public support for Brittney on social media.”