Eddie Sutton




Career Record: 781-299
School Record: 351-135

When someone thinks of consistency, there’s no better comparison than the coaching career of Eddie Sutton. The gentleman that has spent the past 15 years returning his alma mater to the pinnacle of excellence, has been a constant on the college basketball scene for nearly four decades.

Having just completed his 15th season at Oklahoma State and his 35th season overall at the Division I level, Coach Sutton ranks sixth among all-time collegiate coaches with his 781 victories. This past season, he surpassed Ed Diddle, Lou Henson and his mentor, Mr. Henry Iba, on the all-time winningest coaches list.

He became just the 14th coach in Division I history to record 700 wins in a career with Oklahoma State's 85-80 win over the Texas Longhorns in Austin on Feb. 20, 2002. He is quickly approaching the 800 victory mark, which has been accomplished by only seven coaches in the history of collegiate basketball.

Under his guidance, OSU has advanced to postseason play in 14 of 15 years, including 13 NCAA Tournament appearances. He has won 20 games or more on 13 occasions in his tenure at Oklahoma State.

No active coach ranks ahead of Sutton in both victories and winning percentage, and OSU’s boss ranks behind only Dean Smith in victories through 35 or fewer years of coaching.

Sutton, who previously coached at Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky, was the first coach in NCAA history to lead four different schools to the national tournament and was joined in the exclusive club by Lefty Driesell and Jim Harrick following the 2000-01 campaign.

With Sutton and Henry P. Iba among members of the 700-win club, OSU is one of only two schools — the other being Kentucky — with two coaches among the 700-game winners, and Sutton is involved in both. Along with Don Haskins, that's three coaches with more than 700 wins with ties to the OSU program.

In his 15 previous seasons in Stillwater, Sutton has guided the Cowboys to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, 13 20-win seasons, and seven first- or second-place finishes in conference play. OSU's NCAA Tournament appearance last season marked its eighth-consecutive postseason appearance, the longest streak in school history.

Last year, OSU spent the entire season ranked in the top 10 nationally for the first time since the 1953-54 season. The Cowboys advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, one of only three teams to have accomplished that feat in both 2004 and 2005. Oklahoma State advanced to the championship game of the league tournament for the sixth time under Sutton, and won the Big 12 Tournament title for the second consecutive year.

In 2003-04, Coach Sutton took a group of transfers and transformed it into a Final Four contender. The Cowboys advanced to the Final Four for the second time under Sutton, and became one of just 10 programs nationally to have made at least two appearances at the Final Four in the previous 10 years. The Pokes won 31 games, tying for the most in a single season in school history. OSU won both the Big 12 Conference regular-season title and the Big 12 Tournament.

Sutton earned Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year honors in a vote by both the league coaches and the media. It was his eighth such honor, including his third at Oklahoma State.

During the 1999-2000 campaign, the Cowboys reached the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in Sutton's Cowboy career. OSU went on to the Elite Eight for the first time since the 1995 Final Four campaign, making OSU one of just 10 schools to reach the regional semifinals twice in the previous seven tournaments.

The 1997-98 season turned out to be one of milestones for Sutton, who reached the 600-victory plateau when OSU defeated Texas A&M in Stillwater on Jan. 24, 1998. He became just the seventh coach in Division I history to win 600 games in 28 years or less, joining Denny Crum, Bob Knight, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Jerry Tarkanian and John Wooden.

He also earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors in 1997-98 after leading the Cowboys back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons. Having previously been honored by the Big Eight, Southeastern and Southwest Conferences, he is one of only two coaches nationally to have won conference coach-of-the-year awards in four different leagues.

Oklahoma State’s coach, who rekindled the spirit of Cowboy basketball when he arrived in 1990, accomplished something that only one other coach in the basketball history of OSU has done. By guiding O-State to Seattle and the 1995 Final Four, Sutton joined Mr. Iba, who had taken Oklahoma A&M to each of its previous Final Four appearances. Sutton, who played for Mr. Iba at Oklahoma A&M, was tabbed the 1995 National Coach of the Year by Basketball Times magazine. 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.

It didn’t take long for Sutton to dramatically impact basketball at his alma mater. In his first season, he guided the Cowboys to a 24-8 record, a Big Eight Conference title and a Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament appearance, where OSU lost in overtime to Temple. The following season, OSU improved to 28-8, finished second in the Big Eight and made a return trip to the Sweet 16, where the Cowboys lost by three to Michigan’s much-hyped Fab Five.

A 20-9 record in 1992-93 and a 24-10 mark in 1993-94 both included second-place finishes in the rugged Big Eight Conference and trips to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. OSU advanced to the championship game of the league tournament in 1994 as well.

The 1994-95 season, however, was the high mark for Oklahoma State basketball in four decades. The Cowboys advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1951, and Eddie Sutton had proven once again that he is one of the best in the history of the game. One nationally prominent coach put it succinctly: “If you are playing Oklahoma State and everything else is even and it comes down to coaching ... you lose.”

OSU has won at least 17 games in each of Coach Sutton’s years at the helm — no small feat considering that OSU teams had reached that level in just four of the previous 25 years.

The numbers he has put together speak volumes for his coaching legacy. Only Knight ranks ahead of Sutton on the career victories list among active coaches.

In 35 years of coaching at the Division I level, Sutton has won 781 games while losing just 299 for a winning percentage of 72.3 percent. He is a four-time national coach of the year and eight-time league coach of the year.

He has taken his teams to the NCAA Tournament 26 times in 35 years, including 25 times in his last 28 years as a head coach. OSU's 2004 NCAA Tournament run marked the third Final Four trip in his career.

He has had just one losing season in his 35-year career, and 25 times his teams have won at least 20 games in a year.

Sutton began his career by taking over a Creighton team that had not produced a winning record in three seasons and led them to five consecutive winning marks as well as a 23-7 record in 1974 and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Arkansas looked to Sutton for the same kind of revitalization when the Razorbacks named him their head coach before the 1974-75 season. The Hogs had not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1958, but under Sutton’s guidance, Arkansas posted 17-9 and 19-9 marks his first two seasons before going on to win at least 21 games and advance to the NCAA Tournament in each of the next nine seasons.

While at Arkansas, Coach Sutton was a member of the NCAA Basketball Rules Committee from 1980 until 1985. His 1977-78 Arkansas team had a 32-4 record and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Sutton left Arkansas in 1985 for Kentucky, where he promptly guided the Wildcats to a 32-4 record in 1985-86, a No. 3 national ranking and a trip to the final eight of the NCAA Tournament.

At Kentucky, Sutton won two Southeastern Conference championships and was the National Coach of the Year after the 1985-86 season. In his first season at Oklahoma State, Sutton guided the Cowboys to 24 victories, tying the Big Eight record for most wins by a league coach in his first season.

During his tenure at Arkansas and Kentucky, he was a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches' Board of Directors from 1978-88, and was the president the final year. As president of the NABC, he was one of 24 members that voted on the Basketball Hall of Fame Honors Committee for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Sutton’s coaching career began at Oklahoma State as he served as the graduate assistant for Mr. Iba during the 1958-59 season. Sutton then took over at Tulsa Central High School from 1959-66 and had a 119-51 record. He went to Southern Idaho Junior College in 1967 and compiled a three-year record of 83-14 as the head coach.

As a player at Oklahoma State from 1956-58, Sutton was part of the 1958 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. He played guard and averaged 8.3 points per game and led the Cowboys in free throw percentage as a junior (.843).

Coach Sutton has been inducted into several Halls of Fame, including 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 Creighton University Hall of Fame and the College of Southern Idaho Hall of Fame.

He graduated from Oklahoma State with a bachelor’s degree in 1958 and earned a master’s from OSU in 1959.

Sutton was born March 12, 1936, in Bucklin, Kan., and attended Bucklin High School before attending Oklahoma State.

He is married to the former Patsy Wright and has three sons: Steve, Sean and Scott; four grandsons: Hunter, Spencer, Steven, Jr. and Parker; and two granddaughters: Hallie and Lauren.

 

 

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