Legendary college basketball coach Eddie Sutton died Saturday of natural causes, he was 84. Sutton won more than 800 games. He was the first coach to take four different schools to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Sutton died at his home in South Tulsa, Oklahoma surrounded by family, according to a statement.
Sutton is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2020 class. He will be posthumously inducted in August, as will Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
Sutton coached basketball for 50 years, at six different colleges and one high school. However, he is best known for a successful run at his alma mater, Oklahoma State.
Sutton reached the Final Four three times. During his 37 seasons coaching at the Division I level, Sutton finished a season below .500 only twice; during his final season at Kentucky and a half-season at San Francisco.
He still ranks in the top 25 all time in wins with 806.
Kentucky hired Sutton from Arkansas for the 1985-86 season, and he led the Wildcats to a 32-4 record and an Elite Eight appearance. However, after only four seasons, Sutton resigned during an NCAA investigation into the basketball program.
A Legacy Tested
In October 1988, the NCAA announced 18 charges against the basketball program after air freight workers found $1,000 in a package. It was allegedly sent from Wildcats assistant Dwane Casey to the father of Kentucky recruit Chris Mills.
The NCAA gave Kentucky a two-year postseason ban. They were also prevented from playing on live television during the 1989-90 season. Sutton always maintained his innocence.
Sutton returned to Oklahoma State beginning in 1990, bringing back their winning ways. During his 16 seasons with the Cowboys, they reached 13 NCAA tournaments, six Sweet 16s, three Elite Eights, and made Final Four appearances in 1995 and 2004.
In 2005, the school announced the court at Gallagher-Iba Arena would be named Eddie Sutton Court. Sutton played his college ball at Oklahoma State under Henry Iba. He began his coaching career as an assistant for one season after graduating.
Sutton spent 11 seasons at Arkansas, making a Final Four appearance in 1978 and an Elite Eight appearance the following season. He made the NCAA tournament in his final nine seasons with the Razorbacks.
Sutton’s best moment at Arkansas arguably came on Feb. 12, 1984, when his unranked Razorbacks defeated Michael Jordan and the undefeated top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels 65-64. That game remains the only time in Arkansas basketball history that the Razorbacks defeated the AP No. 1 team.
Sutton was chosen for the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Sutton’s wife, Patsy, died in January 2013; they had been married 54 years. He is survived by his three sons and their families, including nine grandchildren.