But, she said on Tuesday at Big 12 media days that Baylor will do something to honor Griner this season.
“I think what we want to do is honor her bring her back to campus,” Collen said. “Make her truly feel welcome at Baylor University and in the athletic department.”
The Baylor football program has a statue for former quarterback Robert Griffin III, who won a Heisman Trophy. In many ways, Griner is the women’s basketball equivalent at Baylor, a two-time all-American and an Associated Press National Player of the Year.
So, it’s not so much about a statue. Could it be a jersey retirement?
Well, according to Collen, there is no formal jersey retirement setup. Griffin has a statue. Olympic legend Michael Johnson’s name is on the school’s track.
Collen said they’re working on a formal process to do that at some point. But, for now, Collen is focused on getting Griner to Waco this season and allowing the fan base to honor her.
“We want to make sure she feels welcome back and do some kind of a celebration this year for her and try to make more formal plans going forward,” Collen said. “But we’re excited to get her back to Baylor for sure.”
Earlier this year Collen and her players made the trip to Arlington, Texas, to see Griner play when the Phoenix Mercury traveled to the Dallas area to face the Dallas Wings. Collen has worked to ensure that the Baylor legend — who helped them win a national championship and left as one of its most decorated players in program history — is remembered and appreciated.
Griner was released from a Russian prison late last year after 10 months, after she was found guilty of drug possession and smuggling. She was sentence to nine years in prison and fined one million rubles or the equivalent of $16,200.
Griner, 31, was arrested in February of 2022 for bringing cannabis into Russia.
Griner still contends that she made an “honest mistake” when she brought vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into a Moscow airport and added that “I hope in your ruling does not end my life.”
The United States used a prisoner swap to get Griner back to the United States. She saw traded for Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms dealer.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.