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Eddie Sutton (born March 12, 1936 in Bucklin, Kansasmarker) is a former college head coach with 36-year of Division I coaching experience with stints at Creightonmarker, Arkansasmarker, Kentuckymarker, Oklahoma Statemarker (his alma mater), and The University of San Franciscomarker. Sutton became the first coach to take four schools to the NCAA tournament, and he reached the Final Four with Arkansas in 1978 and Oklahoma State in 1995 and 2004. He is one of only eight major college men's basketball coaches to have over 800 career wins.


Early years

Eddie Sutton played for OSU (known as Oklahoma A&M until his senior year of 1957–58) under legendary coach Henry Iba. While at Oklahoma A&M Sutton became a member of Sigma Chi fraternity.

In his college coaching career, Sutton was the head coach of Creightonmarker, Arkansasmarker, Kentuckymarker, Oklahoma Statemarker,and University of San Franciscomarker. He has the rare distinction of having taken two schools (Arkansas and Oklahoma State) to the Final Four, and was the first coach to lead four schools to the NCAA tournament.

Sutton's college coaching career began in 1967 in Twin Falls, Idahomarker, where he founded the men's basketball program at the College of Southern Idahomarker, a community college in only its third year of existence. The 1967–68 Golden Eagles posted a 33–4 record and quickly became a consistent national contender at the community college level. Sutton left CSI in 1969 to coach at Creighton. It was with the Bluejays that he made his first coaching appearance in the NCAA tournament in 1974.

University of Arkansas

In 1974, Sutton took over an underperforming Arkansas program from Lanny Van Eman. Over the next 11 seasons, Sutton compiled a record of 260-75, including five Southwest Conference championships, nine NCAA tournament appearances, and a Final Four appearance in 1978. Sutton left Arkansas in 1985 to succeed Joe B. Hall at the University of Kentucky. Arkansas replaced Eddie Sutton with Nolan Richardson.

University of Kentucky (1985–1989)

In 1985, Sutton took the helm of one of the nation's most prestigious college basketball programs at the University of Kentucky. He coached the Wildcats for four years, leading them to the Elite Eight of the 1986 NCAA Tournament. Two seasons later, Sutton and the 25-5 Wildcats captured their 37th SEC title (which was later vacated by the SEC) and were ranked as the 6th college basketball team in the nation by the Associated Press and UPI before losing to Villanovamarker in the 1988 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

However Sutton's tenure at Kentucky promptly ended at the close of the 1988–89 season after a scandal and a losing record tarnished the school's basketball program. Kentucky entered the 1988–89 season lacking significant talent in their lineup. The previous season's offensive and defensive stars Ed Davender, Robert Lock and Winston Bennett had all graduated from school; All-SEC sophomore Rex Chapman left school early to enter the 1988 NBA Draft. Additionally, sophomore standout Eric Manuel was suspected of cheating on his college entrance exam and voluntarily agreed to sit out until the investigation was finished. Potential franchise recruit Shawn Kemp transferred out of Kentucky after signing with the school early that year. As it turned out, Manuel didn't play a single game as the investigation dragged through the entire season, essentially placing the Wildcats in the hands of the inexperienced sophomore LeRon Ellis and freshman Chris Mills. The two underclassmen struggled to fill the talent vacuum on the court and the Wildcats finished with a losing record of 13-19, the team's first losing full-season record since 1927. To add insult to injury, the NCAA announced at the end of the season that its investigation into the basketball program had found the school guilty of violating numerous NCAA policies.

The scandal broke when an Emery Worldwide package sent to Mills, then a highly sought-after high school prospect, from a Kentucky assistant coach popped open and several large-denomination bills popped out. Kentucky was already on probation stemming from an extensive scheme of payments to recruits, and the NCAA seriously considered hitting the Wildcats with the "death penalty", which would have shut down the entire basketball program (as opposed to simply being banned from postseason play) for up to two years. However, school president David Roselle forced Sutton and athletic director Cliff Hagan to resign. The Wildcats were slapped with three years' probation, a two-year ban from postseason play and a ban from live television in 1989–90. Additionally, Manuel was banned from ever playing again for any NCAA member school.

Oklahoma State University

Sutton returned to Oklahoma State in 1990, appointed with the task of restoring the honor and tradition of Cowboy basketball that had laid dormant in the years leading up to his hiring. The Cowboys had only made postseason play three times since joining the Big Eight Conference in 1957.

Given a second chance, Sutton soon went to work on reviving the Cowboys, and his coaching career. The Pokes began to turn around almost immediately with Sutton’s presence, and in 1991, Oklahoma State returned to the NCAA Tournament, ending their NCAA Tournament drought that had lasted since losing 56-53 to Princeton in 1983. Sutton’s Cowboys advanced all the way to the Sweet Sixteen his first two seasons as head coach. Sutton cemented the Cowboys’ return to the ranks of college basketball’s major powers in 1995 as the Pokes, with the leadership of ‘Big Country’ Bryant Reeves and Randy Rutherford, captured a share of the Big 8 Conference championship and won a bid to the 1995 NCAA Final Four in Seattle.

Under his tutelage, the Cowboys reached the postseason 14 times in his 17 years in Stillwater (having declined an NIT bid in Sutton's sixth season as head coach), including 13 NCAA Tournament bids and two Final Four appearances. They also captured three regular-season conference titles and three conference tournament championships. He is the second-winningest coach in school history, behind only his mentor, Iba.

On January 15, 2005, the court at Gallagher-Iba Arenamarker at Oklahoma State University was officially renamed Eddie Sutton Court. He was later honored for his contributions to the game of basketball and Oklahoma State University, on February 21, 2007.

On Friday February 10th of 2006, Eddie Sutton was in a car accident in Stillwater. He was cited for Driving Under the Influence and later confessed to having taken prescription painkillers and drinking alcohol.

Witnesses say that Sutton fell in the parking lot outside of Gallagher-Iba Arena just before getting into his Dodge Durango. He appeared slightly dazed but still got into his car and drove away. A few minutes later, he was weaving on the road, driving to the left of center. His Durango struck the back of a Suburban before swerving left, then right and off the road into a tree. Sutton was taken to the hospital, nobody was seriously injured in the accident. Sutton announced he was taking a medical leave of absence from the basketball team, citing his health problems and the accident as reasons. The games played would continue to count against his overall record, though Head Coach Designate and Sutton's son Sean would coach for the remainder of the season.

On February 15th, 2006 Sutton read a prepared statement over the phone at an OSU press conference. He admitted he had taken prescription medication and "bought a bottle" of alcohol on the night of the accident. He acknowledged his past struggles with alcohol in the late 1980's in which he went to treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic, and he said he would seek treatment once again.

Sutton eventually resigned from his position as Head Coach at Oklahoma State. He underwent treatment for his health issues as well as alcoholism and began public speaking against the dangers of alcohol. Sean Sutton took over the reigns as Head Coach for the 2006-07 season.

University of San Francisco

On December 26, 2007, Sutton announced that he was coming out of retirement to replace Jessie Evans as head coach of the University of San Franciscomarker's basketball team on an interim basis. After joining the program with 798 career wins, Sutton garnered his 800th win on February 2, 2008, making him the fifth NCAA Division I men's basketball coach to reach the milestone. [95814] Sutton was replaced by Rex Walters as USF head coach in April 2008.

Head coaching record

*Big 8 Championship shared with [[Kansas Jayhawks|Kansas]] {{CBB Yearly Record Subhead| |name=[[University of San Francisco|San Francisco]] |startyear=2007 |conference=[[West Coast Conference]] |endyear=2008 |}} {{CBB Yearly Record Entry | championship = | season = 2007–2008 | name = San Francisco | overall = 6-13 | conference = 5-9 | confstanding = | ranking = | ranking2 = | postseason = }} {{CBB Yearly Record Subtotal | name = San Francisco | overall = 6-13 | confrecord = 5-9 }} {{CBB Yearly Record End |overall=888-341 }} *Kentucky vacated the 1987–88 SEC regular season and tournament titles as well as its NCAA Tournament appearance after Eric Manuel was found to be academically ineligible.

Family legacy

Eddie Sutton has three sons: Sean Sutton, the former head coach of Oklahoma State Universitymarker, Scott Sutton, the current head coach of Oral Roberts Universitymarker, and Steve Sutton, who is a successful banker (Spirit Bank) in Tulsa, Ok. Scott Sutton and Steve Sutton are also members of Sigma Chi Fraternity, along with their Father.

See also


  1. Kirkpatrick, Curry. Dodging a Bullet. Sports Illustrated, 1989-05-29.

External links

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