Gottlieb: 'wake-up' for Sean
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Saturday, February 13, 2010
2/13/10 at 4:21 AM
Sports Editor Mike Strain: Sutton’s not the only one who needs help.
View the probable cause affidavit in the Sean Sutton case.
During a Friday radio interview, ESPN personality and former Oklahoma State point guard Doug Gottlieb spoke out following Sean Sutton's arrest and expressed hope that Sutton will take advantage of a "wake-up call" to get his life in order.
Sutton, a former OSU basketball coach, was arrested Thursday on complaints of attempting to possess controlled dangerous substances. He admitted to Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs officials that he was addicted to painkillers.
"There were some stories about things happening at Oklahoma State that we heard of, or heard whispers of," Gottlieb said during a Jim Traber-hosted interview on Oklahoma City radio station WWLS.
"You think when you lose your career and maybe your dream job that it would wake you up. But this (arrest) would obviously have to wake you up."
Sutton spent 13 seasons as an OSU assistant and resigned in 2008 after two seasons as head coach. Gottlieb transferred to OSU from Notre Dame after being busted for using a credit card that did not belong to him.
"I wasn't charged with nearly as serious a crime (as Sutton), but I can tell you when I did my fingerprints in South Bend, Indiana, that was a wake-up call," Gottlieb said.
When Traber broached the subject of whether anyone has attempted to stage an intervention for Sutton, Gottlieb said, "I can tell you he was told by (OSU athletic director) Mike Holder, when they mutually agreed on him leaving Oklahoma State, that he needed to get some help and get some things straightened out in his life.
"Now, I don't know what he was implying, whether it was alcohol or (prescription) meds or just something in general, but I do know that coach Holder ... he told me that. He felt like Sean needed to get some help just because there were times when he felt like he was depressed and then he was overly anxious.
"Whether it was because of the (plane) crash or everything his dad went through or because of the pressure of the situation, he did advise Sean of that. I think Sean nodded his head and said 'I do need to do that.' I don't know if he ever did."
Gottlieb said Sutton lost a close friend, Pat Noyes, in a 2001 team plane crash that killed 10 members of OSU's travel party. Gottlieb said he's not trying to create excuses for Sutton.
"I'm trying to paint a background for people to understand that what we, as guys, don't want to do is ask for help," he said.
Gottlieb indicated a combination of factors — the plane crash, being the son of an alcoholic father, holding a high-stress job and losing it — should have led to Sutton seeking help. Before Sutton's exit from OSU, he told people he felt like he was coaching for his life every day.
"He should have been seeing somebody regardless of whether or not he was using alcohol or using prescription narcotics," Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb said he hopes Sutton does not have to spend time in jail. Regardless, Gottlieb said Sutton needs to figure out why he has addictive desires.
"It's a good lesson for all of us," Gottlieb said. "Sometimes it's good to sit down with a mental health professional. It's not embarrassing to get to know yourself better, to get to know what's good about you and get to know what's bad about you and get it all out on the table. I can tell you I have done it myself and it is incredibly helpful."
Sutton's father, former OSU head coach Eddie Sutton, saw his Cowboy coaching career end following a 2006 drunken driving accident. Following Sean's departure from OSU, Gottlieb said Eddie asked people in the Cowboy basketball family to contact and cheer up Sean, who was "down in the dumps." But Gottlieb said Sean "kind of closed off his life at times."
Eddie Sutton did not return a Friday phone message from the Tulsa World.
Holder and OSU athletic department officials did not comment, but the university released this statement Friday: "We are saddened by this news and our thoughts are with Sean and his family."
Sean Sutton was an OSU assistant during Gottlieb's college career. Gottlieb is OSU's all-time assist leader and helped the Cowboys to an Elite Eight appearance in 2000.
Jimmie Tramel 581-8389
Former OSU basketball coach Sean Sutton crouches in the back of a police car Friday while being driven to the Payne County Courthouse from the Stillwater police station. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World