Eddie Sutton dies at 84; longtime coach received Hall of Fame honor in 2020
Eddie Sutton, who took two different schools to the Final Four during a Hall of Fame coaching career that spanned five decades, has died. He was 84.
Sutton’s family said in a statement early Sunday that he died of natural causes at his home in South Tulsa, Okla., surrounded by loved ones. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Saturday night that Sutton had been in hospice care.
Sutton was voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last April, an honor many of his supporters believed should have been awarded him years earlier. He recorded 806 wins, 11th all time in NCAA Division I, over 37 seasons, and took four schools to the NCAA Tournament (Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State). He also coached San Francisco for half a season in 2007-08.
He led Arkansas (1978) and Oklahoma State (1995, 2004) to the Final Four, losing in the national semifinals each time.
His career also had signifcant personal low points.
He left Kentucky under pressure in 1989 amid an NCAA investigation that culminated in harsh sanctions against the program. Sutton insisted he was innocent. The Democrat-Gazette, in its story, recalled his struggles with alcohol at the time and later in life. The Associated Press noted Sutton’s 2006 arrest on charges of aggravated DUI and traffic offenses, to which he pleaded no contest.
Sutton was in charge of Oklahoma State’s program in 2001 when two players, six staffers and two pilots were killed in a plane crash after a game at Colorado.
Some early reactions by high-profile basketball people to Sutton’s death:
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