Sutton charged with DUI; blood tests show .22 level

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol Friday after tests showed his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit following a car crash last week.

Sutton, who is on a medical leave of absence, also was charged by Payne County prosecutors with speeding and driving left of center. In the accident last Friday, Sutton's sports utility vehicle swerved across four lanes of traffic, slammed into the back of another car, then crashed into a tree.

The driver of the other vehicle, Teresa Barnard, sustained minor injuries and was released at the scene.

After the accident, tests showed Sutton had a blood alcohol content of .22, almost three times the legal limit in Oklahoma, according to an affidavit filed with the misdemeanor charge.

Sutton, 69, admits he has an alcohol problem and apologized earlier this week for the accident that has cast a cloud over the future of his 35-year coaching career.

He released a statement Friday in which he apologized again.

"I made a serious mistake," he said. "I recognize it and I accept the consequences. In an attempt to get relief from the pain I was experiencing with my back and hip I made a poor choice and now I must address those consequences."

The aggravated DUI charge is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $2,500 fine, but Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said it's routine to offer probation to first-time offenders.

"When this is his or her first offense, it is normal and customary to recommend probation, drug and alcohol counseling, treatment and community service," Hudson said.

Sutton's attorney contacted Hudson and notified him that Sutton would enter a treatment facility as early as next week. Hudson said Sutton likely will be arraigned after he is released from treatment, which is customary in such cases.

"Mr. Sutton is not receiving any special or preferential treatment whatsoever," Hudson said. "This case will be handled in the same way we handle any other case with similar circumstances."

Sutton's driver's license was automatically suspended because he initially refused to submit to a blood test after being taken to a hospital following the crash, Hudson said.

The university released a statement Friday saying no decision has been made on Sutton's future at OSU.

"After a careful and thorough review of the police and DA reports, we will determine the appropriate approach we should take as it relates to an internal review," the statement said. "Coach Sutton has taken the right steps to address his problem. Once he has completed treatment, we will meet with him to discuss his future, but right now the most important thing is for him to get healthy."

Sutton coached at Creighton, Arkansas and Kentucky before taking over at his alma mater for the 1990-91 season. He's fifth on the NCAA Division I career coaching wins list with 794. He trails only Dean Smith (879), Adolph Rupp (876), Bob Knight (867) and Jim Phelan (830).

When he became the coach at OSU in 1990, he openly spoke of his struggle with alcoholism.

Sutton underwent treatment at the Betty Ford Center in 1987 while he was coach at Kentucky. When discussing the issue three years later, he said, "I've dealt with it."

Sutton, who had been a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and 2003 and was under consideration again, did not make the
cut Friday.