Oral Roberts hires Sean Sutton

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The reclamation of Sean Sutton's coaching career has begun.

The former Oklahoma State basketball coach, who pleaded guilty in August to illegally obtaining prescription drugs and acknowledged an addiction to painkillers, will serve as an adviser to the Oral Roberts program led by his brother, Scott Sutton.

"He is a gifted and very experienced coach and he'll be a great help to us," school president Mark Rutland said Thursday during a news conference at the private Tulsa school. "At this university, we believe in the stewardship of gifts and we believe in the process of redemptive grace."

Sean Sutton will not be able to give direct instruction to players, but he will be able to watch practice and film and make suggestions to his brother and the Golden Eagles' three full-time assistant coaches.

"Right now, it's a six-month role and we'll see where everything settles after that point," Sean Sutton said. "I do believe that hopefully I'll have the opportunity to go back somewhere as a full-time coach in the spring. ... In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy this experience and do the best I can for this program."

Scott Sutton said the brothers' famous coaching father, Eddie Sutton, had given his blessing to the deal.

"This is a great day for ORU basketball and for me personally," Scott Sutton said.

Eddie Sutton recorded 804 wins during a career with stops at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and San Francisco. Sean Sutton served as an assistant under his father at Oklahoma State for 13 years before becoming the Cowboys' head coach after a drunken-driving accident involving Eddie Sutton in 2006.

Sean Sutton went 39-29 in two turbulent seasons, failing to make the NCAA tournament, and resigned under pressure in April 2008. He has been out of coaching ever since but received a $2.2 million settlement from Oklahoma State.

Scott Sutton has carved out a comfortable niche at Oral Roberts, where he's won four Summit League titles. He's 204-139 as he enters his 12th season with the Golden Eagles. He's taken Oral Roberts to the NCAA tournament three times and owns regular-season wins over Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State, the latter when his brother was the Cowboys' coach.

On Feb. 11, Sean Sutton was arrested after agents from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs said he picked up a shipment of painkillers under another person's name. He spent a night in jail before entering treatment in Utah six days after his arrest. He said he spent 115 days in treatment, 25 longer than the program is intended to last.

After his guilty plea in Payne County District Court, Sean Sutton was sentenced to three years of probation. His probation could be revoked if he violates the terms, which will likely include random drug testing. Otherwise, he would be cleared of any charges and be without a felony conviction on his record if he stays clean through Aug. 9, 2013.

Oral Roberts athletic director Mike Carter said Rutland watched Sean Sutton's news conference admitting his addiction and decided that "this was the place for him to be."

"After five minutes, I was sold," Sean Sutton said.

Sean Sutton, 42, recently moved from Stillwater to Tulsa and said he is ready to re-enter the coaching world. He said he'd been a part of a team each from the time he was 8 until two years ago and he has missed the camaraderie.

He also said that as a recovering addict, it will be good to have something positive to help occupy his time.

"Idle time is not good for anybody but certainly for somebody who has battled addiction, idle time will take you down," he said. "It was very important for me to get back into doing something that I really love to do, to keep me motivated every day to do the right things, to stay strong in my recovery."