OSU women's coach Kurt Budke lived with purpose in family, coaching, mentoring

OSU PLANE CRASH — Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke was remembered Friday as more than a coach. OSU associate head coach Jim Littell said Budke was a great coach, ‘but an even better husband and a better dad and a better friend.'
by John Helsley Published: November 18, 2011
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“I could have a whole assortment on that references list, but I chose to have Kurt Budke exclusively on my resume,” Finkbeiner said. “It just shows what I thought of him as a man and a coach.”

Perhaps the best way to describe Budke is the simplest way: good guy.

And consider that the utmost of compliments. Those who encountered Budke, whether rarely or routinely, say he was consistently warm and engaging and inviting. And, they say he never grew into the big-time coach with the equally big-sized ego.

A small-town Kansas man with small-school coaching roots, his buddies in the business back home once ribbed him for coaching “girls,” then celebrated him when he rose through the ranks to enjoy major success.

At Trinity Valley Community College, he led the Lady Cardinals to four national championships and two national runner-up finishes in seven seasons. His six straight national title game appearances are an NJCAA record.

At the junior college level, Budke's .898 winning percentage (273-31) is the highest in NJCAA history. He's the youngest coach ever inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

At OSU, he took over a program that had sunk to the bottom of the Big 12 and quickly made it relevant.

Hired off the coaching staff at Louisiana Tech, Budke hailed his return home to the Midwest. And while he wasn't an original member of the OSU family, they adopted him and he adopted them.

For the biggest of games, Budke proudly wore a bright orange blazer provided by an OSU fan, breaking it out for the first time for the Cowgirls' memorable win over Oklahoma in 2008.

“Seven years ago when we walked through these doors and coach walked into the press conference,” to announce his hiring, Littell said, “his zeal for Oklahoma State was incomparable. He loves this place and loved coming in here every day.

“Everybody here loved the man. He was far more than just a basketball coach. Talk about being a loving husband and tremendous dad; we would sit around and brag about our kids and how much we love them and watching them grow up in a great community.

“This was his dream situation. Every day we would bring a recruit in, he would walk them on the court and say, ‘Look at this place. Look at this place. I love this place.' And he meant it from the heart.”

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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