It’s a sad day in the sports world, and the basketball community continues to pay its respects to the late Eddie Sutton. The Hall of Fame coach died Saturday evening at the age of 84. Although his four seasons at Kentucky were far from perfect, he left a lasting impression on his former players and other important figures from across the basketball community. Today, those figures are remembering the life and legacy of Coach Sutton.
WKYT sports reporter Alex Walker dug up this video from the station’s archives, showing Rob Bromley’s introductory conversation with Sutton after he was named Kentucky basketball’s head coach. Coach Sutton was thrilled to get the call.
“I was so thrilled when the president [Otis A. Singletary] and [Athletic Director] Cliff [Hagan] called me yesterday. They interviewed me, and then they called me back about two hours later,” Sutton recalled. “Dr. Singletary said we’d like for you to be our basketball coach. And I said I would crawl all the way from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Lexington to be your coach. This is the best coaching job, in my opinion, in the country.”
— Alex Walker (@AlexWalkerTV) May 24, 2020
Later in his career, he took his team to country music star Waylon Jennings’s Nashville home before UK’s matchup against Vanderbilt. Waylon’s young son had become a big Kentucky fan, so Sutton and the team enjoyed a meal with the family during their stay in Music City in 1988.
Throughout his time in the Bluegrass, Sutton also hosted a TV show with WKYT’s Rob Bromley titled the “Eddie Sutton Show.”
Here’s an episode from 1987, where the duo discusses the Cats’ recent performances, including the UK Invitational Tournament win.
Several former Wildcats posted tributes to their head coach on Twitter.
He believed in me when I didn’t and it changed my life ..grateful 2 God that I got 2 call him coach & life long friend. Being a part of his first yr at Ky and going 32-4 was the joy of a lifetime. Thx Coach & I will cherish the many warm memories you gave me until we meet again. pic.twitter.com/9b1qmKPW1t
— Roger Harden (@HardenRoger) May 24, 2020
Just heard my 1st coach at UK, Hall of Fame Coach Eddie Sutton passed away. RIP. This pic is from my days coaching at USF. Had a chance to spend some time with him when we played at Oklahoma St. ????#bbn @kentuckyalumni @KentuckyMBB @UKSportsNetwork @UKAthletics pic.twitter.com/kc89M6g4uy
— Reggie Hanson (@Reghanson) May 24, 2020
Dear Coach, thank you. You told us that life was hard, but if we could make it through your practices, we could achieve anything. You were right.
You told us that when we play “Oklahoma” or “the Jayhawks” we outta… https://t.co/BPS8FgndJc
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) May 24, 2020
Eddie Sutton was a fascinating and complicated person. He also was an unbelievable teacher of the game of basketball. I was fortunate and lucky to have learned from him. Grateful.
Hall. Of. Famer.
Thanks, Coach Ed.
— Rex Chapman?? (@RexChapman) May 24, 2020
Other UK figures also reacted to the news on social media, including current head coach John Calipari.
Eddie Sutton has passed away. He had a HOF career and touched many lives, including mine. He was always kind to me and my family when I was a young coach and we’ve stayed in touch throughout his life. He’s going to be missed. RIP, my friend. He and his family are in my prayers. pic.twitter.com/JxoFliDvyx
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 24, 2020
So sadden to hear of passing of former UK basketball coach Eddie Sutton. Despite the struggles he faced in life with a terrible disease that many people still fight, Eddie was a very kind, generous man and he was a great coach. May you finally “Rest In Peace ” Eddie. @KentuckyMBB pic.twitter.com/hmaHQh8jPm
— Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) May 24, 2020
Several national voices also commented on Sutton’s life and legacy.
Current ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes played under Coach Sutton at the University of Arkansas before ultimately joining his staff as an assistant coach at Kentucky from 1987-89.
As a player and asst. coach under Eddie Sutton, we ALWAYS knew we would NEVER be out coached by the guy on the opposing bench. Thank you for everything coach. I love you… pic.twitter.com/UVb78ME9yl
— Jimmy Dykes (@CoachJimmyDykes) May 24, 2020
RIP Eddie Sutton.
I hate that he won’t get to experience his Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame induction. But I’m glad he at least knew he was accepted before he died.
He deserved the HOF.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) May 24, 2020
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) May 24, 2020
RIP to legendary basketball coach Eddie Sutton. The first coach to take four different teams to the NCAA Tournament, Sutton won 800 games and reached a Final Four in three different decades. A Naismith Hall of Famer. pic.twitter.com/re3f9VG6yT
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) May 24, 2020
May he rest in peace.