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Queens of the Court: Patsy Sutton shares OSU coach's dream

Brandy McDonnell Modified: February 9, 2003 at 12:00 am •  Published: February 9, 2003

Kentucky was a sort of dream job for Eddie, a chance to coach for a major program with a rich tradition. But he inherited a mess. The NCAA was investigating allegations of recruiting violations, and rumors and accusations were flying, Patsy said. Sean played for the team, so he also was in the middle of the uneasy situation.

Despite the difficulties, she said she enjoyed her time in Kentucky. While she had been involved in volunteer work before, much of it had centered on the boys' school activities. In Lexington, she served on the boards of Ronald McDonald House and a center for abused children. She developed interests in 18th century American furniture, old books and antiques.

"This may sound trite, but we believed the measure of a man boils down to the way he deals with adversity. Everyone faces adversity, no one escapes it, so it became a challenge to overcome it the best we could," she said. "I never look back at Kentucky with any kind of regret. If that hadn't happened, we would never have made it here. Things work out."

After four years in Kentucky, which included his only losing season, Eddie resigned. He took a year off to work for Nike's basketball relations. Then, he learned his alma mater was looking for a new coach, and OSU hired him in spring 1990.

"It seemed a natural," Patsy said, adding that much of her family lives in Stillwater. "I thought it was just a wonderful thing for the family. Somehow, it was just perfect."

The Suttons' alliance with OSU has brought Eddie numerous trips to the NCAA tournament and another trip to the Final Four. However, they faced their greatest adversity at OSU the 2001 plane crash that killed 10 men affiliated with basketball program.

"For us, I think it has made a difference in how we live our lives," Patsy said. "It is by far the most difficult thing I've ever experienced."

Eddie Sutton calls his wife "my No. 1 assistant coach." She attends all the OSU home games and occasionally travels to away games. She has the players over for dinner before the season and in the spring, and sometimes hosts recruiting dinners. She serves as an advocate for the players, often developing close relationships with them. Darrell Walker, an OSU standout who later played in the NBA, has credited her with saving his life when she taught him to take responsibility for his actions.

The Suttons' two younger sons played basketball at OSU under their father, and Sean remains as an OSU assistant coach, while Scott coaches at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. Steve is a banker who lives in Fayetteville, Ark. They have five grandchildren, with one more on the way, and Patsy relishes her role as grandma, or "Honey," as the youngsters call her.

She also serves on the Stillwater Medical Center Foundation Board, volunteers at the Sheerar Museum, is a founding member of the steering committee for OSU's Women in Philanthropy, is on the executive board for the College of Human Environmental Sciences Associates and attends First United Methodist Church in Stillwater. She exercises, gardens, reads and studies Irish history.

"Certainly, it's been more than we dreamed of when we started. It's been fun and exciting, and it's been stressful. But mostly, it's been gratifying every step of the way," she said.

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