Oklahoma State University Women’s Basketball Coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna former State Sen. Olin Bransetter (82) and his wife Paula (79) were killed Thursday in a small engine plane crash in a rugged section of Central Arkansas.
Budke, 50, and Serna, 36, were flying to Little Rock for a recruiting trip. The single-engine Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee aircraft, manufactured in 1964, crashed in rugged terrain in the Ouachita National Forest’s Winona Wildlife Management Area, officials said. Cause for the crash is not entirely known at this time, however, several eyewitnesses have stated that they were in the area and heard the constantly louder throttling of the plane before the crash.
The tragedy brought back memories of two particular events. One where 10 members of the men’s basketball team died in a plane crash in Colorado in 2001 and the other when a traditional bonfire at Texas A&M University collapsed on Nov. 18, 1999, killing 12 people. The Big 12, the Universities involved, and much more so the families and friends of those lost have suffered greatly from the events of long ago mentioned and the events of today.
The legacy of Coach Budke and Serna live on. They have obviously touched many lives in completely positive way. Here are just a few recent quotes of rememberance.
Stan Warfield, retired pastor of First United Methodist Church in Stillwater ~ “Coach Budke never met a stranger.”
Jim Littell Associate head coach ~ “He was a great basketball coach, but he was a better husband, a better dad and a better friend,” he said.
Sherri Coale Sooner women’s basketball coach ~ “I am devastated by the tragic news of the deaths of Kurt and Miranda. Kurt was a fantastic basketball coach and he was a tremendous competitor. More importantly though, he was a devoted father and husband, and a humble but courageous leader of young people.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin ~“The loss of coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna has shocked and saddened all of us,” Fallin said . “In addition to working to reshape the OSU women’s basketball program into a top 10 contender, both coaches were mentors and role models to countless young women. They will be remembered as great coaches and great people who made all of Oklahoma proud. I am asking all Oklahomans to keep the OSU community, the women’s basketball team, and the family and many friends of coach Budke and coach Serna in our thoughts and prayers as they deal with this terrible tragedy.”
OSU Athletic Director Mike Holder ~“We are shocked by this terrible loss. Kurt Budke was an incredibly positive influence on his players and was a tremendous coach. He quickly turned our program around and put Cowgirl basketball on the map. Miranda was a tireless worker and great recruiter.”
Budke was in his seventh season as Cowgirl coach, with a record of 112-83. Budke transformed a program that endured a winless conference season in 2005-06 into a league title contender and NCAA Sweet 16 participant just two years later.
His team was 1-0 this year after a convincing victory over Rice University on Sunday. Under his direction, OSU made postseason appearances each of the past five seasons, including three trips to the NCAA tournament.
I send my condolences to the Budke, Serna, and Bransetter families. All they have accomplished survives in the many people they have touched over their lives.
~ Erik Sudberg