Basketball Hall of Famer and former UK basketball coach Eddie Sutton passed away Saturday night. He was 84.
Sutton, who grew up in Kansas — a state known for basketball, was a prolific coach in college hoops. He started as an assistant to Hall of Famer Henry Iba at Oklahoma State after graduating from there in 1958.
From then on, he would go on to be a successful head coach at many schools. He coached Tulsa Central High School, Southern Idaho, Creighton, Arkansas, and as many of you reading this know, Kentucky. His biggest success, however, was when he returned to Oklahoma State in 1990 to become the head coach of the Cowboys.
As the head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Sutton led the Cowboys to their first Final Four since 1951 within five years of the job, and then again in 2004, before stepping down in 2006. By the time he led the Cowboys to a Final Four, he was the first coach to lead four different schools that far into the tourney.
Sutton returned to basketball for a season at San Francisco University in 2007, before finally retiring. He finished as the fifth coach to join the 800-win club.
At the University of Kentucky, his tactics in recruiting led to the program being on probation for a few seasons after offering $1,000 to Chris Mills’ father. That led to his leaving of the program as well as then UK Athletic Director Cliff Hagan, before the Rick Pitino Era began which rejuvenated the program.
Rex Chapman, who played for Eddie Sutton at UK, tweeted his thoughts on the passing of his former head coach.
“Eddie Sutton was a fascinating and complicated person. He was also an unbelievable teacher of the game of basketball. I was fortunate and lucky to have learned from him. Grateful,” Chapman said.
Current UK Head Coach John Calipari also tweeted his thoughts on the passing of the fellow Hall of Famer.
“Eddie Sutton has passed away. He had a HOF career and touched many lives, including mine. He was always kind to me and my family when I was a young coach and we’ve stayed in touch throughout his life. He’s going to be missed. RIP, my friend. He and his family are in my prayers,” Calipari said.
Sutton’s legacy will live on as one of the greatest in college basketball history.