Archive for Monday, January 29, 2001

OSU grieving after crash

Tuesday’s game canceled; memorial service planned

January 29, 2001

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— Oklahoma State coaches and players were secluded Sunday, a day after two reserve players and eight other members of the basketball traveling party died in a plane crash in Colorado.

It was unlikely that coach Eddie Sutton would meet with the media, sports information director Steve Buzzard said at a briefing in Gallagher-Iba Arena. Sutton was in meetings with athletics director Terry Don Phillips much of the morning.

"This is a day for, uh ...," Buzzard said, his voice trailing off. "There's a lot of pain."

Sutton stayed in his office until after 1 a.m. Sunday, notifying family members and meeting with his grieving players.

"It was tough on him," said Tom Dirato, OSU's director of radio and television, who was with Sutton most of Saturday night. "There's none of us who could imagine what it would be like getting on the phone and calling a father, a mother, an uncle or just people that you know and say, 'What you heard is correct, he didn't survive.'

"It took a toll on him."

Reserve players Dan Lawson and Nate Fleming died when the Beechcraft King Air 200 went down in a field about 40 miles east of Denver. The crash also killed the team's play-by-play announcer, its sports information director, a radio engineer, two managers, the team's administrative assistant and the two pilots.

Officials scheduled a memorial service for 3 p.m. Wednesday at Gallagher-Iba Arena, Buzzard said.

Buzzard also responded to questions about aircraft, including who provided them.

"All three aircraft that were used on the trip were private and they were provided to the university by the alumni and businessmen," Buzzard said.

The plane that crashed was provided by Dick Bogart of Oklahoma City, he said.

Harry Birdwell, vice president of business and external relations at Oklahoma State, said college officials continually review the best ways to transport teams.

"I assure you we're going to leave no stone unturned in terms of review of our policies to be sure that our student athletes and staff and officials of the university are as safe as they can possibly be," Birdwell said.

"We will do a complete review of our policies and re-evaluate the standards of safety that just have to be part of any activity such as this."

The Big 12 said Sunday that Oklahoma State's game Tuesday at Texas Tech had been canceled. Buzzard said he had heard no talk of plans to cancel the rest of the season.

"I know that coach Sutton, obviously, was concerned about the game Tuesday night," he said. "I'm not putting words in his mouth, but the impression that I get from that end is that the season will be finished."

A three-member team from Oklahoma State left for Colorado on Sunday to work with local authorities and assist family members, Buzzard said. The group included university vice president David Bosserman, a member of the Oklahoma State University police department, and Carter Mattson, special assistant to Phillips.

Buzzard said he expected the players, who left Sutton's office stunned and in some cases crying Saturday night, would spend the day secluded.

"I would be remiss to tell you I know what they're doing today because it's a private time," he said. "They were together last night for most of the night and I would guess they'd be together today."

Buzzard said Sunday was in some respects more difficult than Saturday night because more relatives of the victims were arriving in town.

"Now you're starting to see families and family members come in and you see the hurt in their eyes and on their faces. That's very difficult," he said. "This is a great loss. You just pour your hearts and your prayers to those family members who have lost people that are so important to them and to us."

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