STILLWATER — Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke's “zeal for Oklahoma State was incomparable,” associate head coach Jim Littell said Friday.
Budke, Oklahoma State's women's basketball coach, and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed Thursday in a plane crash in Central Arkansas along with former state senator Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula. The plane was owned by Olin Branstetter, who was also the pilot.
“He loved this place,” said Littell, who will take over as interim head coach for the Cowgirls.
Littell and OSU president Burns Hargis remembered Budke and Serna at a Friday morning press conference.
“It's our worst nightmare,” said Hargis, who added that he had spent time with Budke's family this morning.
The crash is the second in the last 10 years that OSU athletics has been through. In January 2001, 10 men affiliated with the university's men's basketball team died in a plane crash in Colorado.
“When something like this happens, and God forbid it happen again, we have to pull together as a family,” Hargis said.
“We don't know a lot about what happened and how it happened, but we know they're gone, at least from our presence. But I know they're here in our hearts.”
Littell said he wanted it known that Budke was “far more than a basketball coach.”
“He was a loving husband and a tremendous dad,” Littell said.
“Every day we'd bring a recruit in, he's take them in and say, ‘Look at this place; I love this place'” Littell remembered as he raised his hands. “And he meant it. From the heart.”