Eddie Sutton will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in August

By Claudia Harmata
May 24, 2020 02:30 PM
Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Legendary college basketball coach Eddie Sutton died at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night. He was 84.

Sutton's family released a statement, which was obtained by ESPN, confirming the news, saying he "passed away peacefully of natural causes," and was surrounded by his three sons and their families.

"He is reunited with his number 1 assistant, his bride Patsy Sutton, who passed away in January of 2013 after 54 years of marriage," the statement said.

"Dad and Mom treated their players like family and always shared the belief that his teachings went beyond the basketball court," the statement continued. "He cherished the time he spent at every school and appreciated the support from their loyal fans. He believed they deserved so much credit in the success of his programs."

Less than two months prior to his death, Sutton learned he would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, which his family said he felt was "an honor and a tribute to the great players he coached and outstanding assistant coaches that worked for him."

Sutton will be posthumously inducted in August, along with the late Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant. Sutton was also inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, CNN reported.

"We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy," the Sutton family's statement concluded. "A memorial service for the public will be planned at the appropriate time."

Eddie Sutton
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Throughout his 50-year coaching career, Sutton won over 800 games and was the first coach to take four different schools to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

In total, Sutton coached at six different colleges and one high school. He is best known for his tenure at his alma mater, Oklahoma State, as well as a controversial run at the University of Kentucky.

He began his career in Oklahoma as an assistant from 1958-59. Three decades later, he returned as the head coach, holding that position from 1990 to 2006. During his 16 seasons with the team, they reached 13 NCAA tournaments, six Sweet 16 rounds and three Elite Eights and made two Final Four appearances in 1995 and 2004.

Eddie Sutton
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Before his final run at Oklahoma, Sutton was hired by Kentucky for the 1985-86 season. During that time and he led the Wildcats to a 32-4 record, as well as an Elite Eight appearance.

However, after only four seasons, Sutton resigned from his position in the midst of an NCAA investigation into the basketball program after Emery Worldwide air freight workers found $1,000 allegedly sent from Wildcats assistant coach Dwane Casey to the father of Kentucky recruit Chris Mills.

Sutton and Casey have maintained their innocence, with the late coach claiming it was "a setup" in 2011, ESPN reported.

After Sutton resigned, the NCAA gave Kentucky a two-year postseason ban and prevented the team from playing on live television during the 1989-90 season. Casey was put on probation for five years, and Mills was ruled ineligible.

Aside from Oklahoma and Kentucky, Sutton also served a short stint as the interim head coach at the University of San Francisco in 2007-08, as well as the College of Southern Idaho, Creighton University and the University of Arkansas.

Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis mourned Sutton in a tweet on Saturday.

"#okstate is deeply saddened by the passing of Coach Eddie Sutton," he shared. "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 #CowboyFamily. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Sutton family."