Sutton Resigns As Cowboy Head Coach

STILLWATER – Eddie Sutton - after 798 victories, three Final Four trips and 26 NCAA Tournament appearances – stepped down as head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, effective June 30, he announced during a Friday afternoon news conference. The 70-year-old Sutton said he will turn over the Cowboys basketball team to his son Sean, who has been head coach designate for two years, and will stay with Oklahoma State to begin a new program of alcohol education and support.

"This is a great day for me and my family. It has been my honor and privilege to be the head basketball coach at Oklahoma State University for the past 16 years," Sutton said in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the Varsity Room inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. "It's unbelievable time has passed so fast. However, after much thought and consideration, I have concluded it is time to retire.

"I've been blessed by being at some great schools … but this has been a real honeymoon because this is my school. There's no one that loves this institution more than I do. I want you to know that I continue to have the energy and the enthusiasm for the job. I feel better now then I've felt in four or five years. This decision is simply about what is best for me and what is best for the basketball program at Oklahoma State.

"The timing of this announcement is so that there will be adequate time for the transition that needs to take place with Sean as the head coach. He and the staff certainly need to accomplish a lot this summer."

Sutton said that he is looking forward to his new endeavor, educating others about the problems associated with alcoholism. He said that OSU President David Schmidly, who did not attend the news conference, would have details on the new alcohol education program at a future date.

"I am excited about this opportunity and feel it will be something of lasting value, not only to me but it will benefit the university, our community, Stillwater and the state of Oklahoma," Sutton said. "There are so many problems in colleges across the country when it comes to addiction. There are so many young people who don't realize what a horrible disease alcoholism is, or the drugs they're exposed to.

"When I had the accident, it was certainly had to be one of the low points in my life. Since that time there are seven separate situations where my admitting the problem that I had, and the fact that I was going to take care of myself and get something done about it, there have been seven different people that have gone on to treatment centers. Two days ago there was a young man who came up to me, and I say young man but he was in his 30s, and he said, ‘Coach, I just want to thank you. I've been trying to get my wife to go to a treatment center for a long time. She said when you came out and said what you did, she decided that if he could do that she was going to do it, and she's now in a treatment center.'

"I think maybe that was God's way of telling me that there's some things I can do to help people. Just like I always felt like there were things I could do to help young men on our basketball team get ready for the real world.

"Dr. Schmidly, at a future time, will tell you more about how this program works, but I am excited about being a part of it. I think I will be basically a fundraiser, but that's going to be easy because there are very, very few people who have not come in contact with someone they know is an alcohol."

Sutton, who appeared on the sideline as a coach for the last time on Feb. 8 against instate rival Oklahoma at Gallagher-Iba Arena, said that he hoped to get the 800th win of his major college coaching career before retiring. But he decided it was best to step down just two victories away from the mark which only a handful of coaches have ever accomplished.

"Originally I was going to coach two games this year and win 800," said Sutton. "I always thought it would be neat to be one of the coaches to win 800 games, but I thought it was wrong in that if I retired after those two games it would really put more pressure on Sean. Maybe I was thinking about what some of the people had said (about me staying to get 800). I know that this is the right decision. My unwavering belief is that Sean will continue the winning tradition in this basketball program that I've been fortunate to be a part of."

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