Eddie Sutton’s posthumous induction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame came on Saturday, as his induction helped kick off the induction ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Kansas head coach Bill Self, along with former Kansas head coach Larry Brown and NBA legend Sidney Moncrief, presented Sutton for induction in a video introduction in Springfield, Massachusetts
Sutton was one of the first members of the 2020 class to be officially inducted. The 2020 class had been celebrated on Thursday and Friday during pre-induction ceremonies. Those pre-induction ceremonies included his son Sean Sutton, who served as an assistant coach under his father.
“My dad’s life had hills and valleys. He did not run from it. He faced it head on,” Sutton said.
Self, who like the elder Sutton played at Oklahoma State and later served as an assistant coach under Sutton in the 1990s, talked about the impact Sutton had on OSU.
“He started programs, he built programs, he maintained programs, and he totally at Oklahoma State galvanized a community in a way in which it had never been done before,” Self said.
Sutton’s head-coaching career included five Division I stops, 806 victories, and three NCAA Final Four appearances, the last of which came at OSU in 2004. He is No. 9 in all-time wins among Division I head coaches. He is the first coach to take four different teams to the NCAA Tournament.
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Sutton played at Oklahoma State under the legendary Henry Iba (who is also in the Hall of Fame) from 1955-58. After wrapping up his playing career, he embarked on a long road back to leading his alma mater. He assisted Iba for one season at OSU, took a head-coaching job at Tulsa Central High School for seven seasons, and then led College of Idaho for three seasons after Tulsa Central before earning his first Division I-coaching job at Creighton in 1969.
In five seasons at Creighton, Sutton built up his resume, culminating in a 23-win season in 1973-74, including an NCAA Tournament berth. Arkansas took notice and hired him to rebuild the Razorbacks. He spent 11 seasons with Arkansas, winning five Southwest Conference titles and reaching the NCAA Tournament in each of his final nine seasons. He took Arkansas to the 1978 Final Four, and after the 1984-85 season Kentucky stole Sutton away from Fayetteville.
Sutton’s stint at Kentucky was short. He spent four seasons with the Wildcats, and despite three NCAA Tournament appearances, Sutton resigned after a scandal-marred 13-19 season in 1988-89, one that led to Kentucky receiving a three-year penalty that included a two-year postseason ban.
A season later, Sutton landed at OSU, replacing Leonard Hamilton. In 16 seasons at his alma mater, Sutton won 368 games, won three conference tournament championships, made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, and reached two Final Fours — in 1995 and 2004. Neither led Sutton to that elusive national title. He resigned after the 2005-06 season, one that saw him arrested for a DUI and admitting to an alcohol problem, for which he sought treatment.
He returned from OSU after the 2005-06 season and did a short stint as the interim head coach at San Francisco in 2007-08 before calling it quits for good.
Sutton was among nine inductees who were elected in 2020 but had to wait a year in order to have their formal induction ceremony due to COVID-19. One of the other inductee is a now-former Big 12 coach in Kim Mulkey, who led Baylor’s women’s basketball team to three national championships but left the university last month for LSU.
The Class of 2020 also includes: 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan, 15-time NBA All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection Kevin Garnett, two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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