Oklahoma State Honors Eddie Sutton

Wednesday, February 21st 2007, 10:27 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Eddie Sutton felt like his 368 coaching wins were his own way of repaying Oklahoma State for an athletic scholarship that years earlier had allowed him to get an education.

After just more than a year away, Sutton's alma mater stopped to honor him for all he did in Stillwater.

"I'm really honored that the university would see fit to do this," Sutton said Wednesday night before a ceremony at halftime of the Cowboys' game against No. 8 Texas A&M.

Texas A&M won the game 66-46.

Sutton's 798 wins at Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Kentucky and Creighton are the fifth-highest total for any men's NCAA Division I basketball coach. When his victories at Tulsa Central High School and the College of Southern Idaho are included, he won exactly 1,000 games before retiring from coaching in May.

"I'll tell you one thing: I have greater appreciation for fans. Having been a head coach for 47 years at high school, junior college and four Division I schools, you could always have an impact on the game in some way. You could change the game," Sutton said. "When you sit up there, you are helpless."

The ceremony included a video tribute, and fans chanted "Eddie! Eddie!" as the former coach walked to center court alongside his wife, Patsy, with his family not far behind. University President David Schmidly announced that Sutton would be named coach emeritus.

Sutton said the ceremony was "a big thing" for his family and he didn't think it was too early after his retirement for him to be honored.

"I'm not, in all likelihood, going to go back into coaching," Sutton said. "I think I could still coach some, because of the way I feel. I feel better than I've felt in a long time.

"The last couple of years I felt so badly I could hardly get up and down off the bench sometimes. If anybody tells me they've got back problems, I'll be the most sympathetic person because I didn't know you could hurt that bad."

Sutton, who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor aggravated drunken driving and two other charges following a February car accident that prematurely ended his time on the sidelines, praised his former players, assistant coaches and mentor Henry Iba.

"I owe a lot to this school. I would have never been able to go to college without a scholarship, and Mr. Iba was kind enough to give me a scholarship," Sutton said. "I got a good education and found my bride, and we'll be married -- if you can believe this -- 49 years next June 1."

Sutton said he comes to the Cowboys' practices only when his son, current coach Sean Sutton, asks him to evaluate. He'll also sneak a quick peek if he has another reason to be on campus.

He said he misses basketball, mostly the chance to teach and the fellowship with athletes that he'd become used to during a career that included three trips to the Final Four -- including two at Oklahoma State.

"It was really a Cinderella run, especially when it's your alma mater," Sutton said. "At Arkansas, I got a thrill being able to get that program off and running, but when it's your school it's more meaningful."

Sutton last week was named one of 15 finalists being considered for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame but said of his chances, "I am not that optimistic because I look at who's been nominated." He said he figures Phil Jackson, Roy Williams, and the 1966 Texas Western NCAA championship team will get in, along with a couple pro players and possibly Dick Vitale.

"It's an honor just to be nominated because there's a lot of coaches that never get nominated," Sutton said. "To get into the Hall of Fame is very difficult now for college coaches. You look at the last 25 years, there's been very few get in."