STILLWATER, Okla. – Apologizing for a series of "terrible mistakes," former Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton was sentenced Friday to three years of probation after pleading guilty to illegally obtaining prescription drugs.
Sutton agreed to testify against two people who allegedly supplied him with adderall, clonazepam and oxycodone as part of a plea agreement covering four felony counts tied to his February arrest. He was also ordered to pay more than $2,850 in fines, perform 100 hours of community service in the next year and complete more drug rehabilitation treatment.
Sutton responded to Judge Stephen Kistler's questions with "Yes, your honor," and "Yes, sir," when asked if he understood the allegations. When asked why he was pleading guilty, he said: "Because I did it."
"I just want to apologize to you, your honor, the court and the people of the state of Oklahoma," Sutton said when given the chance to address the court. "I've made terrible mistakes and I'm very apologetic to everyone."
Sutton's probation could be revoked if he violates the terms, which will likely include random drug testing. Otherwise, Sutton would be cleared of any charges and be without a felony conviction on his record if he stays clean through Aug. 9, 2013.
"I'm certainly for sending dealers and manufacturers to prison and we do quite often, but for somebody that the real crime is being an addict, we try to give them an opportunity to rehabilitate and we help them along the way with the terms and conditions of probation," District Attorney Rob Hudson said. "He'll be on a pretty short leash with the court and our office."
Sutton was arrested Feb. 12 after agents from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs said he picked up a shipment under another person's name that included about 40 pills, including the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam and two forms of the stimulant adderall.
The agency had previously placed Sutton in a drug rehab program but, according to court documents, he ended up meeting two people who would become his suppliers after he got out.
Hudson said charges were "forthcoming" against those two, but they are not currently in custody or facing any charges.
Sutton pleaded guilty to obtaining a controlled dangerous substance (oxycodone) by fraud, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance (oxycodone) without a prescription, attempted possession of controlled dangerous substances (clonazepam and Adderall) and use of a communications device to facilitate a felony.
Sutton said he entered treatment at the Cirque Lodge rehabilitation center in Utah six days after his arrest as "a broken man, recognizing I could lose everything I treasured in life." He said he spent 115 days in treatment, 25 longer than the program is intended to last, and he plans to stay in touch with his sponsor and support group and attend meetings.
"The inpatient treatment that Mr. Sutton had is probably the longest and most extensive that I've ever seen, which is a good thing," Hudson said.
The judge emphasized the importance of Sutton continuing his rehab — including another two weeks at Cirque Lodge — and said the court will use its leverage to make sure he complies.
"It's never as easy as just flipping a switch and it's over with. It's a battle every day," Sutton said before the hearing. "You have to make a commitment to do your program every day. If you don't and you miss enough days, eventually it's going to get a hold of you again."
Sutton knows that from experience. He is the son of Eddie Sutton, the former basketball coach who won more than 800 games in a career that included a stint at the Betty Ford Center to fight an alcohol addiction between his time at Kentucky and his return to Oklahoma State, his alma mater.
Sean Sutton took over the program when his father stepped down following a drunken driving crash in 2006, going 39-29 in two seasons in charge of the Cowboys.
Cirque Lodge director Gary Fisher said Sean Sutton spoke to schoolchildren as part of a community service program and became a leader for others going through treatment. Sean Sutton's wife, Trena, has also helped launch an awareness campaign about the illegal use of prescription drugs in Oklahoma.
Sean Sutton said he hopes to return to coaching and believes it would help him fight his addiction, which initially started after he had been prescribed medications to help with migraine headaches and lower back pain. He said he had been a part of a team from first grade until he resigned as the Cowboys' coach in 2008 at age 38.
"Idle time is no good for anybody," he said. "When you're not doing things productively every day, you don't feel good about yourself, and I felt lost for the first time in my life.
"Other than my kids and my wife, I didn't have anything to really motivate me and get me to look forward to the day. As a person that's been very driven throughout their life, I was lost."
Right now, though, he said his coaching career isn't his top priority.
"I made the statement I got consumed. I thought that's what I was: I was a basketball coach. But really, that's what I do. It's not the person I am."