The all-time winningest coach at ORU, Scott Sutton has posted 270 wins in 14 seasons leading the Golden Eagles. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, Sutton has guided the Golden Eagles to a 247-141 (.637) mark. During that same span, ORU has finished either first or second in the conference standings nine times.
Combined with brother, Sean and father, Eddie, the Sutton family has 1,113 wins between them, making them the most successful father-son basketball combination in NCAA history.
Facing a new league with one of the youngest teams in America, Sutton guided the 2012-13 squad through uncharted waters to a third place finish in the Southland Conference, a postseason berth and a second consecutive 20-win season. ORU earned three all-conference selections in Warren Niles (1st team), Damen Bell-Holter (1st team) and Shawn Glover (2nd team), with Niles and Bell-Holter also garnering first team all-district honors from the NABC. Additionally, the Golden Eagles advanced to the third round of the CIT and broke a streak of 11-straight postseason losses, dating back 38 years.
In 2011-12, the Golden Eagles won more regular season games than any other time in program history as an NCAA Division I program, tying the mark for overall wins entering the conference tournament. For his team’s work, he was rewarded with 2012 Summit League Coach of the Year honors to go along with his players’ Summit League Player of the Year (Morrison) and Summit League Sixth Man of the Year (Roundtree) awards. Four Golden Eagles (Morrison, Roundtree, Craion, Niles) were honored on the first, second or honorable mention all-conference honors.
Those bench marks of longevity and success seem hard to imagine for some. After all, Sutton managed just 23 wins in his first two season after taking over a depleted program prior to the 1999-2000 season. But since the start of the 2001-02 campaign, Sutton has made significant strides and turned ORU into one of the nation’s most respected -- and feared -- mid-major programs.
Not only have the Golden Eagles have averaged more than 19 wins annually in Sutton’s 14 seasons, but over the last 10 that figure has grown to better than 21 victories a year.
Sutton has guided ORU to seven 20-win seasons, five Summit League regular-season titles, three tournament championships, three NCAA Tournament appearances, two NITs and two CITs.
But perhaps most impressive for Sutton and the Golden Eagles since 1999 are the upset victories. Signature wins have become a trademark of the Sutton era, and they’ve become an annual part of ORU Basketball. Nearly every season since 2002-03, the Golden Eagles have knocked off at least one power conference team.
During Sutton’s tenure ORU has defeated the likes of Arkansas, Georgetown, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Seton Hall and USC.
But at the top of that impressive list is ORU’s 78-71 victory at No. 3 Kansas on Nov. 15, 2006. That win not only came against Sutton’s mentor and former ORU boss Bill Self, but happened on the night Sports Illustrated proclaimed the Jayhawks as the top team in the land in its annual preview issue.
In 14 seasons at the reigns Sutton has produced four All-Americans, four Freshman All-Americans, 29 all-conference selections, four conference players of the year, four conference newcomers of the year, two conference defensive players of the year, and three conference sixth man of the year picks.
National exposure has also been a key element of ORU’s rise. In addition to ORU’s home television appearances on Fox College Sports the last three seasons, the Golden Eagles have made 22 national television appearances since March of 2005, including a 2008-09 meeting with No. 1 North Carolina on ESPN2.
Hired as an administrative assistant by former ORU head coach Bill Self prior to the 1995-96 season, Sutton’s early ORU career has often been compared with Self’s. But the current ORU boss has clearly made a name for himself.
In 2008 Sutton was finally honored for his coaching achievements within the league when he was named Summit League Coach of the Year. In 2007 he was one of four finalists -- along with Washington State’s Tony Bennett, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan and John Thompson III of Georgetown -- for Clair Bee National Coach of the Year Award. In 2005, Sutton was honored as the NABC District 12 co-Coach of the Year, sharing the award with his father, Oklahoma State’s legendary Eddie Sutton.
Despite not reaching the ultimate goal of appearing in the NCAA tournament, the 2010-11 season was still a successful one by any standard. With a 19-16 record, the Golden Eagles made it 10 consecutive years posting a winning record under Sutton. The team made its first CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament appearance, and earned multiple national awards as Morrison was named to the Mid-Major All-American team and Roundtree was named the Mid-Major Freshman of the Year. Roundtree was also named to the Summit League all-newcomer team and earned Summit League Newcomer of the Year honors. Morrison earned first-team all-conference honors, while Damen Bell-Holter and Warren Niles each earned honorable-mention honors.
The Golden Eagles also posted a 10-game winning streak, and made another appearance in the Summit League championship game.
The 2009-10 season was a roller coaster ride for Sutton and the Golden Eagles. Despite losing a pair of all-conference starters from an underachieving 2008-09 squad, the Golden Eagles were confident they were about to return to their championship ways. But three season-ending knee injuries in the span of three weeks -- including two in the same practice -- made ‘09-10 a year of two steps forward, one step back.
Point guard Hunter McClintock and forward Tim Morton suffered knee injuries during a late October practice and missed the year. Veteran point guard Rod Pearson, who was just hitting his stride after sitting out the previous season under NCAA transfer rules, went down with a knee injury of his own in on Nov. 21 at Virginia. In a cruel twist of fate, the injury occurred one game after Pearson’s 20-foot floater knocked off Stanford at the buzzer. Before the season had barely started, ORU was down to 10 scholarship players and no true point guard.
But the season wasn’t a waste for the Golden Eagles; far from it. Highlights included wins over Stanford, a thrilling buzzer-beating home victory over Missouri, and an impressive win over nationally ranked New Mexico. ORU did reach the 20-win mark for the fifth time in six seasons and finish third in the Summit League.
The 2009-10 season also saw the emergence of forwards Michael Craion and Dominique Morrison. Craion earned Summit League Newcomer of the Year, while Morrison was named first-team All-Summit. Sophomore Ken Holdman, thrust into a starting role at point guard, turned in a solid campaign while receiving his first extensive playing time.
Based on previous successes, it would be easy to deem the 2008-09 season a “failure”, especially after missing the post-season for the first time in five seasons. ORU finished the 16-15 overall and was bounced from the Summit League Tournament in the first round.
There were highlights, however, including a win over Big East foe South Florida and a 9-1 start to League play. In the end, however, ORU’s string of championships was snapped at four.
As good as Sutton and the Golden Eagles have been over the last several years, perhaps nothing was more surprising or satisfying than the 2007-08 season. Following the graduation of 2,000-point scorers Caleb Green and Ken Tutt, Sutton took a team made up of role players and newcomers and steam rolled the newly named Summit League. ORU raced to a record 13-0 conference start and captured its fourth straight regular-season crown on the strength of a record-setting defense and good old-fashioned team play.
Sutton pulled all the right strings. Leading scorer Robert Jarvis, a junior college transfer from Seminole State, was relegated to the bench after two games and went on to become the top-scoring sixth man in the nation. A swarming defense limited opponents to 62.0 points per game, easily the best number in school history.
Non-conference wins over Oklahoma State and Tulsa (the fourth Mayor’s Cup victory in five seasons), a 24-9 overall record, and five national TV appearances helped make 2007-08 an memorable year, even if the year did end with a loss to Pittsburgh in the NCAA Tournament First Round.
The 2006-07 season saw the Golden Eagles continue their run through the Mid-Continent Conference. With seniors Caleb Green and Ken Tutt leading the way for their fourth and final season together, ORU captured its third consecutive conference crown, and second straight tournament championship. The tourney title gave ORU consecutive NCAA Tournament berths for the first time in school history.
As the prohibitive preseason favorites, none of those events were considered much of a shock to the college basketball world. But what happened on Nov. 15 in Lawrence, Kan., caught everyone by surprise.
Facing an 0-2 start to the season after an opening-weekend loss at Loyola Marymount, the Golden Eagles visited Allen Fieldhouse for a meeting with Sutton’s former boss Bill Self and his No. 3-ranked Kansas Jayhawks. ORU emerged two hours later with a 78-71 win in what was arguably the biggest regular-season upset of the year, and perhaps the biggest win for ORU in 30 years.
Green and Tutt concluded their careers as one of the top duos in college basketball history, becoming the seventh set of teammates in NCAA history to reach 2,000 points together. Green, the three-time Mid-Con Player of the Year, finished his stellar tenure as just the 18th player in NCAA annals with 2,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.
ORU finished the season with a 23-11 record, giving the Golden Eagles three-straight 20-win seasons for the first time in three decades.
The 2005-06 season saw Sutton and the Golden Eagles finally reach their ultimate goal of advancing to the NCAA Tournament, one season after suffering a heartbreaking defeat in the Mid-Con championship game. But while the season ended on a high note, it was one of Sutton’s most challenging years.
A veteran team, one which featured just a single newcomer, was for the third time in four years the consensus pick to capture the Mid-Con crown and advance into the post season. Some publications boldly predicted a Sweet 16 appearance for the Golden Eagles, and for the first time recent memory, ORU received votes in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll.
But a rash of injuries, combined with a murderous non-conference schedule which featured eight consecutive road games over 24 days in December and early January, contributed to a slow start.
Following a loss at Minnesota on Dec. 31st, the undermanned Golden Eagles stood on the brink of Mid-Con play with a 5-7 record.
Through it all, Sutton held the Golden Eagles together, reminding them that their goals were still reachable with a strong conference season. ORU started league play well, winning their first three conference games. But the injury bug struck again, when Ken Tutt suffered a foot fracture and was forced to miss 10 games.
Again, Sutton kept the Golden Eagles focused. ORU was 8-2 in Tutt’s absence, and in position to win the regular-season title. The Golden Eagles closed with three straight league victories following Tutt’s return, and earned a share of their second straight Mid-Con regular-season crown.
Tutt led the way for the Golden Eagles in the Mid-Con Tournament, earning MVP honors after scoring 27 points in the championship game.
After enduring a shocking loss to seventh-seeded Oakland in the Mid-Con finals one year earlier, Sutton said the Golden Eagles’ 85-72 win over Chicago State last year gave him peace.
After a loss to No. 1 seed Memphis in the NCAA Tournament first round, ORU ended the year with 21 wins, giving the Golden Eagles consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since the mid-1970s.
Though 2004-05 was a success by anyone’s standards, it was also bittersweet. Sutton led the Golden Eagles to 25 wins, the Mid-Con regular-season title and several big victories. ORU won its second straight Mayor’s Cup game with a record- setting rout of Tulsa. The Golden Eagles also knocked off Georgetown in the Rainbow Classic, Southwest Missouri State in the ESPN Bracket Buster and captured road wins at St. Louis and Valparaiso.
But ORU’s upset loss to Oakland in the Mid-Con Tournament finals prevented 2004-05 from being everything the Golden Eagles believed it would be. Despite the crushing loss, ORU was rewarded with a spot in the NIT, the program’s first post-season berth in eight years.
After struggling in his first two seasons as head coach Sutton finally reaped the rewards of his hard work in year three. The Golden Eagles rebounded from a 2-7 start to finish 17-14 overall and second in the Mid-Continent Conference. Had it not been for a freak injury to leading scorer Reggie Borges in the opening round of the Mid-Con Tournament, ORU may have reached the NCAA’s much sooner than expected. Instead, without Borges, the Golden Eagles lost in the semifinals.
For his efforts, Sutton was named Mid-Con Coach of the Year by a panel of league media members.
In 2002-03, ORU began the season 6-0 (the best start in the program’s Division I history), defeating Arkansas, SMU and Wichita State along the way. The Golden Eagles finished the year with an 18-10 overall mark, the school’s most victories since the 1997-98 season.
In 2003-04, Sutton guided a team that consisted of just one returning starter and six first-year players to a 17-11 mark and a second-place finish in the Mid-Con.
Growing up as the youngest son of a legendary coach, Scott paid close attention to his father, and has borrowed a few notes from Dad as well. He also had the opportunity to play for his father at Oklahoma State from 1992-94, helping the Cowboys reach the NCAA Tournament both seasons.
From his days as a youngster watching his father coach at Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky, to his days as a player for him at Oklahoma State, to his days as an assistant coach at ORU under Self and Barry Hinson, Scott had learned a lot about the game... and ORU.
“Of course I understand that it certainly didn’t hurt my chances for getting this job being the son of Eddie Sutton,” Scott said. “I do know that I love this university. This is my university. Oklahoma State may be my alma mater, but ORU is my school.”
In truth, Sutton’s love and devotion to ORU, along with his Christianity, basketball knowledge and recruiting ability helped him earn his first head coaching position. It has also helped him get through the highs and lows he has experienced since being named as ORU’s 11th head coach on April 30, 1999.
Sutton and his wife, Kim, are the parents of three daughters: Hallie (12), Lauren (10), and Maggie (7).