STILLWATER - Patsy Sutton typically doesn't give her husband advice on coaching or basketball.
But the wife of Oklahoma State University men's basketball coach Eddie Sutton made a rare exception earlier this season at the Great Alaska Shootout. As she was sitting in her assigned seat behind the OSU bench, listening to her spouse give the players orders and admonitions, she tapped him on the shoulder. She told him to say something positive, getting a laugh from him.
"Then, when Jason (Miller) made a free throw, he said something like, 'Way to go,' and then told me, 'There, I said something positive,'" she said with a grin.
In 44 years of marriage and coaching, Patsy Sutton has left the basketball expertise to her husband. But she has always been there with her supportive and positive attitude.
"When I've been inducted into different halls of fame, I've always shared it with her, because she's been my biggest supporter," said Eddie Sutton, 66, who is part of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. "I can't say enough good things about her."
A Stillwater native, Patsy, 64, met her future husband at the college where they graduated and he now coaches. They met at the home of a mutual friend.
"I had to chase hard to catch her in college. I had to lay all sorts of traps to get her to go out with me," Eddie said. "Good thing I could run fast and was patient."
They married a year and a half later, just after Eddie's 1958 graduation. They decided he would get a master's degree and work as a graduate assistant coach under Henry Iba while she studied to get her home economics education degree in three years.
"I had no idea what he wanted to do when I first started dating him," she said. "I think it was that year when ... it became apparent."
He got his first job at Tulsa Central High School, and they thought back then that he would become a career high school coach.
"We did it seven years and loved every minute of it," she said. "He's always considered himself a teacher, and I think that comes from being a high school coach where he did teach."
While Eddie was teaching history and basketball, Patsy attended all the games and taught home economics at Monroe Junior High School for five years. She retired from teaching when they decided to start a family, and oldest son Steve was born.
Eddie Sutton got his first chance at the college game when College of Southern Idaho, a new school, contacted him and offered him the opportunity to start the basketball program.
"At that point, we were ready for an adventure," she said.
And Eddie Sutton's aspirations also began to change. He wanted to become an NCAA Division 1 basketball coach.
He stayed three years in Idaho, where second son Sean was born, and then Creighton came calling. The Suttons packed up for Omaha, Neb., and Division 1 territory.
"I was a partner in all this. This was not his career; it was our career," Patsy said. "This is what he wanted to do, and I was very involved with it, and I wanted it for him. I looked forward to the challenge."
Their third son, Scott, was born in Nebraska, and Eddie Sutton found continued success in his five years at Creighton. Other universities began to contact him, and a trip to the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight in his fifth year increased the attention.
He interviewed at Duke and was pursued by the University of Arkansas. Arkansas was closer to home and offered ripe territory for recruiting. The university was ready to make a commitment to building up its lackluster basketball program.
In 11 years at Arkansas, the couple raised their children, and Eddie Sutton took his first trip to the Final Four. Steve graduated from high school and opted not to play college basketball but attended the University of Kentucky, where his father took his next coaching job.