A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about Oklahoma State’s Eddie Sutton. At the time he had just offered a scholarship to former Tar Heel recruit JamesOn Curry (who as you might remember, lost his opportunity to play for UNC when he was busted for selling drugs).
In that article I used the line “I’m not so sure a leopard can really change his spots.”
It seems I may have been right. Sutton just took a leave of absence for the rest of the season after injuring himself in a car wreck. After the accident, Sutton was charged with DUI. One choice quote from that ESPN article:
Witnesses told police that shortly before the accident, Sutton was unsteady on his feet and struck his head after falling in the parking lot of Gallagher-Iba Arena before entering his vehicle, Stillwater police said Saturday.
The key part of this to me is the way that Sutton was handled by the media when his team made the 2004 Final Four. At that time, the media tripped over each other to write glowing articles about the man. One of the key angles they covered was a handy way to get around his serious NCAA troubles at Kentucky – he was a recovering alcoholic. It was made clear that he had confronted his demons and won. If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s a recovered scoundrel. Great stuff! Plus, it’s just tacky to attack a man for being an alcoholic, so that allowed them to write great things about him without paying much attention to his past cheating.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Eddie Sutton is a great basketball coach. I love the way his teams play and clearly he has a great side to him, because those who get to know him seem to really love him. But to me once a cheater, always a cheater. And a cheater is no different than a liar (and addicts make great liars). Let’s just say I’m not shocked to find out that the stories of him being dry and squeaky clean might not be 100% true.