Legendary college basketball coach Eddie Sutton died Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was 84 years old. Sutton led his teams to three Final Fours during his illustrious coaching career and won 806 games prior to his retirement in 2008.
The former Oklahoma State player began his coaching career at his alma mater first as an assistant (1958-59), returning three decades later to take over as the Cowboys head coach, a position he held from 1990 to 2006 with conference titles in his final two seasons at OSU.
In between his first coaching gig and his short stint as the interim head coach at San Francisco in 2007-08, Sutton coached at Southern Idaho, Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky. Scandal at Kentucky led him back to Oklahoma State, but not before the Wildcats achieved a 90-40 record and an SEC regular-season title. Sutton also earned an AP Coach of the Year honor with the Wildcats.
The aforementioned scandal at Kentucky — in which the NCAA nearly handed the Wildcats the death penalty due to the number of rules it deemed the program had broken — trailed Sutton for the rest of his life. He was denied enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame six times but elected to the elite fraternity earlier this spring on his seventh opportunity. His formal, now-posthumous, enshrinement is set for later this summer.
The Sutton family released a statement:
Sutton was a winner everywhere he went. Only twice did he post a losing record during his career: as an interim coach at San Francisco and in his final season at Kentucky. He led four different programs to a combined 25 NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Sutton name lives on in college basketball prominently through Eddie’s lineage. Two of his three sons, Sean and Scott, are college basketball assistant coaches at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, respectively.