NCAA basketball coaching legend Eddie Sutton made some mistakes, but his exclusion from the Naismith Hall of Fame until now made no sense whatsoever.
Eddie Sutton is one of the most successful head coaches in the history of NCAA basketball, and the numbers speak for themselves. Yet Sutton, time and time again, hadn’t received inclusion into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
This past February, the 84-year-old Sutton was named a Hall of Fame finalist for the seventh instance, according to an announcement from the Oklahoma State athletics department.
How a coach who possesses 806 career victories – 11th overall – and is the first one in the history of the sport to guide four different schools to March Madness has struggled for so long to reach the Naismith HoF seems illogical to me. But, finally, an overdue injustice has gotten corrected.
On Saturday, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 got unveiled. This class, which includes NBA legends Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, also features Sutton. They will get enshrined in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 29 of this year.
Per this ESPN.com report, there are 10 head coaches in Division I men’s hoops who have a minimum of 800 career triumphs. Sutton, according to the article, was one of three in this exclusive group who had not gotten inducted into the Naismith HoF – prior to last Saturday, that is.
The other two, by the way, are Cliff Ellis and Bob Huggins. Don’t get me started about Huggins’ exclusion from the Naismith Hall of Fame. That better come soon.
As far as Sutton, who advanced to three Final Fours and twice landed the Associated Press National Coach of the Year award, some analysts and journalists have said in recent days and further back that Sutton’s own issues could have contributed to his delay in getting the Naismith HoF call.
Yes, Sutton has had personal matters to deal with, and there was a scandal at one of the programs that he led. However, there are numerous Naismith Hall of Fame collegiate-coaching members who have endured an NCAA investigation or some other type of scandal.
Sutton took Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State to the Big Dance, and on a combined 26 occasions. When he came to Stillwater, Okla., in April of 1990, Oklahoma State had gotten to the NCAA Tournament just once in 25 years, says the university’s press release.
Over the next 16 stanzas, under Sutton, the Cowboys accumulated 13 March Madness invites. That’s tremendous. His personal stuff may have played an unfair role in keeping Sutton out of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for a lengthy duration of time.
What really should have mattered, at least as far as the HoF was concerned, is what Sutton did on the court. And he put forth a stellar career, one that, thankfully, will put him in Springfield. Even if way too late.