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Eddie Sutton (1936–2020), Hall of Fame college basketball coach

by Linnea Crowther

Eddie Sutton was a college basketball coach who was the first to take four different teams to the NCAA tournament: Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State.

Hall of Fame career

Sutton’s coaching career started at his own alma mater, Oklahoma State, where he played under notable coach Henry Iba. Sutton stayed on as assistant coach after his 1958 graduation, but it was at Creighton University that he’d first make his mark. As head coach there from 1969 to 1974, Sutton made his first NCAA tournament appearance. He moved to the University of Arkansas, leading the team to nine NCAA tournament appearances over 11 seasons. In 1978, he took the team to the Final Four. At the University of Kentucky, Sutton’s team took two Southeastern Conference titles. In 1991, Sutton returned to his alma mater, where he would twice lead the team to the Final Four. Sutton ended his coaching career at the University of San Francisco in 2008, just a few months after his 800th win. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2020.

Sutton on the secret of his success

“We cared for them, not only as basketball players, but as people… That’s why we always had players that played their asses off.” —from a 2016 interview with KJRH-TV

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What people said about him

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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