Sutton Taking Medical Leave, Not Retiring

Eddie Sutton did not retired as head basketball coach of Oklahoma State but is taking a medical leave of absence to seek treatment for an alcohol problem, he said Wednesday night. The 69-year-old Sutton admitted that he has a problem with alcohol abuse and that it was a contributing factor in the automobile accident which occurred last Friday. Sutton said that he would be seeking treatment in a rehabilitation center similar to what he did in the late 1980s while head coach at Kentucky.

"Things have happened so suddenly here, and Coach is banged up, he's hurting," OSU CEO and President David Schmidly said. "What we talked about is him going on an official medical leave, (and) getting himself to where we can then have the conversation about what the future is. Now is just not the time to do that."

Sutton spoke publicly Wednesday night for the first time since last Friday's automobile accident which led to his subsequent DUI arrest earlier this week. The Cowboys head coach was en route to the Stillwater airport to join the team for its flight to Texas A&M, but hit another vehicle and ran off the road after reports of erractic driving. He suffered several bumps, bruises and a facial laceration, and was taken to Stillwater Medical Center where he was held overnight.

Sutton has watched the last two Cowboy games on television from his Stillwater home, and has not rejoined the team since the accident.

On Monday, it was reported that Sutton had been arrested for driving under the influence but it was not known if that was caused by the pain medications he had been taking for back problems he has battled for the past 18 months or other substances. Sutton acknowledged during the news conference that he mixed his pain medication and alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel of his Dodge Durango on Friday.

"For the past two years I have experienced a number of health challenges," Sutton said. "My back and hip situation is well-documented. The pain at times has been been unbearable. Last Friday, the pain was so bad that I took a lot of pain pills but that didn't seem to work, so I succumbed to temptation and went and bought a bottle. I have a problem with alcohol. I make no excuses for what has happened. I recognize it and I will be seeking treatment for it. I went to Betty Ford (Clinic) in the late ‘80s, and I will be checking into another treatment center in the very near future."

Sutton is the fifth winningest coach in NCAA Division I history with 794 wins. He entered the season needing just 19 victories to capture the 800th win of his 36-year major college coaching career, and many thought that would be easy. But the Cowboys returned just one player with extensive playing time this season and have struggled to a 13-12 record, losing seven of their last eight games.

OSU's loss to KU on Monday night was the fourth consecutive home loss and the fifth of the season, neither of which have ever occurred since Sutton took over the program in 1990-91.

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