Eddie Sutton was among the most successful and respected college basketball coaches ever. He passed away on May 23, 2020, at 84, leaving a legacy of excellence, integrity, and passion for the game. In this article, we will look back at his remarkable career and achievements and his impact on the lives of his players, colleagues, and fans.

Eddie Sutton:

Eddie was born in Kansas, on 12 March 1936. He grew up playing basketball and learned the fundamentals from his high school coach, a former Henry Iba player, and the legendary Oklahoma State University coach. Sutton followed in his footsteps and enrolled at Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M) in 1954, where he played guard for Iba’s Cowboys from 1955 to 1958. He was part of a team that reached the NCAA tournament in his senior year and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1958.


Sutton started his career as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State under Iba. He then coached at Tulsa Central High School and the College of Southern Idaho, where he won two junior college national championships. He debuted as an NCAA Division I head coach in 1969 at Creighton University, where he led the Bluejays to two NCAA tournament appearances in five seasons.

Eddie then moved to the University of Arkansas in 1974, where he established himself as one of the top coaches in the country. He guided the Razorbacks to nine NCAA tournament appearances, including a Final Four in 1978, and won five Southwest Conference regular season and three tournament titles. He also coached some of the best players in Arkansas history, such as Sidney Moncrief, Joe Kleine, and Ron Brewer.

In 1985, Sutton took over the prestigious program of the University of Kentucky, where he continued his success. He led the Wildcats to three NCAA tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight in 1986, and won a Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament title. He also coached some of the best players in Kentucky history, such as Kenny Walker, Rex Chapman, and Winston Bennett.

However, His tenure at Kentucky ended abruptly in 1989 amid a recruiting scandal that resulted in NCAA sanctions and his resignation. He took a year off from coaching before returning to his alma mater, Oklahoma State, in 1990. There, he revived the Cowboys’ program and took them to 13 NCAA tournament appearances, including two Final Fours in 1995 and 2004. He also coached some of the best players in Oklahoma State history, such as Bryant Reeves, Desmond Mason, Tony Allen, and John Lucas III.

Sutton retired from Oklahoma State in 2006 after suffering a stroke and being involved in a car accident that revealed his alcohol problems. He had a brief stint as an interim head coach at the University of San Francisco in 2007-08 before retiring for good. He finished his college coaching career with an impressive record of 806-326 (.712), making him one of only eight Division I coaches with over 800 wins. He also won 17 conference regular season and tournament championships and was named National Coach of the Year four times.


Eddie Sutton was a legend of college basketball and a man of honor and influence. He left a legacy of excellence, integrity, and passion for the game that will be remembered and celebrated for generations.