The basketball world and the Oklahoma State family lost a legend. Eddie Sutton, the hall of fame coach who authored 806 wins and three Final Four appearances, died Saturday at the age of 84.
Sutton's family said in a statement he died of natural causes at home in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area, surrounded by his three sons and their families. His wife Patsy died in 2013.
"Dad and Mom treated their players like family and always shared the belief that his teachings went beyond the basketball court," the family wrote. "He cherished the time he spent at every school and appreciated the support of their loyal fans. He believed they deserved so much credit in the success of his programs."
The first coach in history to lead four different schools to the NCAA tournament, Sutton was selected for enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on April 4. His enshrinement in Springfield, Massachusetts was set for Aug. 29.
Sutton ranks 11th all-time with 806 career coaching victories. He is an eight-time conference coach of the year and a two-time recipient of the Associated Press National Coach of the Year award (1978, 1986).
Sutton entered the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 having led Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and his alma mater, Oklahoma State, to a combined 26 NCAA Tournament appearances. In 37 seasons of Division I coaching, Sutton won 17 conference regular season and tournament championships.
"Oklahoma State University is deeply saddened by the passing of Coach Eddie Sutton," said Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis. "A Hall of Fame Coach with more than 800 wins, he revived our historic basketball program and will always be revered and loved by the Cowboy family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Sutton family.
He took Arkansas to the Final Four in 1978 and returned with Oklahoma State in 1995 and 2004. Sutton's three Final Four appearances are tied with notable names like Phog Allen, Nolan Richardson, Bill Self and John Thompson for the 21st most in college basketball history.
When Sutton arrived in Stillwater on April 11, 1990, he inherited an Oklahoma State program that had made just one appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 25 years and had only seven winning seasons during that same period.
Over the next 16 seasons, Sutton guided Oklahoma State to 13 NCAA Tournaments, 13 20-win seasons and seven first or second place finishes in conference play. OSU's NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005 marked its eighth-consecutive postseason appearance, the longest streak in school history.
At Oklahoma State, Sutton coached seven All-Americans, 52 all-conference Cowboys, five Big Eight/Big 12 Players of the Year and nine NBA Draft picks. Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, Desmond Mason, John Lucas III and Joey Graham all became All-Americans and OSU legends under Sutton.
Sutton began his coaching career by taking over a Creighton team in 1969 that had not produced a winning record in three seasons. He led them to five consecutive winning marks, culminating in a 23-7 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 1974.
He was hired at Arkansas in 1974 and is credited with leading the Razorbacks back to national prominence. Sutton coached the famed Arkansas Triplets – Sidney Moncrief, Ron Brewer and Marvin Delph – as well as Joe Kleine, Scott Hastings, Alvin Robertson and numerous other Razorback greats. In fact, his Arkansas winning percentage of .776 was the highest in the history of the Southwest Conference.
At Kentucky, Sutton won two Southeastern Conference championships, advanced to three NCAA Tournaments and was the National Coach of the Year (AP, NABC) after the 1985-86 season.
Born in Bucklin, Kansas on March 12, 1936, Sutton was a standout at Bucklin High School before attending Oklahoma A&M, where he played for the legendary Mr. Iba from 1956-58. Sutton averaged 8.1 points in 1957 and helped take down star center Wilt Chamberlain and No. 2 Kansas, 56-54. As a senior in 1958, Sutton poured in 8.3 points on 47.4 percent shooting and helped OSU win 21 games and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Sutton earned his bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State in 1958 and a master's degree from OSU in 1959.
Along with his late wife, Patsy, the Suttons had three sons – Steve, Sean and Scott – two of which carried on the family coaching tradition. Sean was the head coach at Oklahoma State from 2006-08 and is currently on staff at Texas Tech, while Scott spent 18 season as the head coach at Oral Roberts before joining Mike Boynton's staff at OSU in 2017.
On top of his induction into the Naismith and College Basketball halls of fame, Sutton has gone into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (1983), the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor (1995), the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame (1996), the Oklahoma State University Hall of Honor (1997), the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame (2009), the Creighton University Hall of Fame, the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame, the Tulsa Public Schools Athletics Hall of Fame and the College of Southern Idaho Hall of Fame.
The Oklahoma State and Arkansas basketball programs continue to honor Sutton to this day, with the Cowboys playing on Eddie Sutton Court and the Razorbacks practicing at the Eddie Sutton Basketball Practice Gym.