TULSA—Basketball head coach and former player Eddie Sutton passed away on Friday May 22 at the age of 84 after years of declining health. Sutton’s coaching career spans across four different decades where he led four programs to NCAA tournament berths, which also featured three Final Four appearances with Arkansas and Oklahoma State.
Sutton died in Tulsa, Oklahoma by natural causes while surrounded by his three sons and their families. His wife of 54 years, Patsy Sutton, passed away in January 2013.
“Dad and Mom treated their players like family and always shared the belief that his teachings went beyond the basketball court. 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 family said in a statement.
Sutton’s overall coaching record sits at 806-326, good enough for a .712 winning percentage, which ranks him 11th all-time amongst men’s head basketball coaches. He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and was most recently selected in April as a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame for their 2020 class, joining the likes of the late Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan who will also be enshrined in Springfield, Mass. this summer.
Immediately following a playing career with Oklahoma State from 1955-1958 (Oklahoma A&M at the time), he returned to the Cowboys bench the season after to serve as the assistant coach of the team. He then went on to start the basketball program at Southern Idaho in only the junior college’s third year of existence in 1966. As the team’s head coach for their first three seasons, Sutton maintained an 84-14 record.
Creighton brought Sutton on board as head coach following his success at the junior college level. He took the Blue Jays to their first NCAA tournament berth in 1974 after 10 years of being absent from the big dance.
After his continued success, he moved on as the head coach of Arkansas where he coached the squad for 11 seasons. He led the Razorbacks to a final four appearance in 1978, but lost to the program he’d eventually coach, Kentucky. However, during that same season, Sutton was named the Associated Press’s coach of the year, the first in his career.
Sutton served briefly as head coach for Kentucky. Starting in 1985 he earned his second AP coaching award in his first season, but left after his fourth year with the program amid a recruiting scandal while already on probation from the NCAA.
Sutton returned to where his coaching career began and took over as the head coach for his alma mater Oklahoma State. He saw continued success coaching the Cowboys and led them to 13 tournament berths which featured two final four appearances in 1995 and 2004. His coaching success with Oklahoma State also included eight consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 1998-2005.
Sutton retired from coaching following the 2006 season but briefly came out of retirement to coach the University of San Francisco as an interim head coach for the 2007-2008 season. He earned his 800th career victory on Feb. 2 2008, making him the fifth coach at the time to achieve the accomplishment.