The following is a question and answer series with Eddie Sutton the day after he was appointed head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky:
What is your academic standard? Coach Sutton: Ninety-two percent of our players at the University of Arkansas graduated. I think you'll find me to be a educator and a teacher. That's the only thing I've ever promised to be -- that I'll do everything possible to get that person a degree. I know they have a good program here as far as tutors. If it means getting a tutor for every class that a young man takes, then that's fine. But that's our responsibility. I want them to leave the University of Kentucky with a degree. Not all of them will play in the NBA. At Arkansas I had five players that are doctors now and I had a lot of people that are now attorneys and successful business people. So, it's very important to me that I teach basketball and at the same time they leave here with a degree and a strong set of values that will allow them to be suffessful in years to come.
What do you think about paying college athletes?
Coach Sutton: Well, I think there are a lot of us on the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) board that feel, and I think they're a lot of other people, that don't think you ought to pay'em. But I think you'd cut out 90 percent of what I call 'nickel-an-dime' cheating by allowing them to have $15 to $100 a month. That's been advocated by a lot of coaches. I don't think you ought to pay college athletes. But when I went to school at Oklahoma State in 1954 they gave us a check for $15 a month . . .1 would like to see the NCAA be more realistic about that. The other thing a lot of us have advocated is maybe give them (the players) a couple of airline tickets. Pay them to fly them in the fall, or go home at Christmas time, come back after Christmas and go home in the spring. But I'm not in favor of paying college athletes.
Coach, what feeling did you get about Lexington during the weekend of the Final Four?
Coach Sutton: I've got a great bride(Patsy) and June 1st we will have been married for 27 years. After I had accepted the job, we went over to the arena to watch the championship game, and I said, 'Can you imagine 23,000 people rooting for the Wildcats. I was in awe.
What do you attribute your 11-year home record of 121-8?
Coach Sutton: I would hope in 11 years from nowwe'llbe 121-8. I don't know if that's possible or not. I think our system is sound. It's not going to be that much different from what you've seen at the University of Kentucky. The crowds are always very important. We had a great band director. I'm going to hire him before I hire another assistant (Sutton laughs). He got the crowd into the ballgame.It's like when Jim (Kelly) and I were giving a coaching clinic in Madrid a few years ago and I had never seen a bullfight. And you know a bull has no chance. He said (Kelly) that bull has about as much chance as I do coming into Barnhill Arena (Fayetteville). Well, I hope that (coaches) will feel that when they come to Rupp Arena.
Our spirit groups have done a marvelous job and I'm sure they do here.
Kentucky has always had a tough pre-season conference schedule. Do you favor a tough pre-conference schedule?
Coach Sutton: I think so. I think we ought to play good basketball teams. We don't want to play anybody that's doing anything that's illegal. But there are a lot of quality programs across the country. Kentucky plays Kansas every year, and that's a good game. Indiana is a good game. Louisville is a good game. I have great respect for Denny (Crum). We've played four times and we've thrown in some 50-footers to
beat'em. We (Arkansas) were 3-1 against Louisville and they beat us in Knoxville two years ago to knock us out of the NCAA. But that was a great college game. I have great respect for Denny. He runs a good program. That game (UK-UL) should be played. Like I said yesterday (press conference), Kentucky basketball is the best. Louisville has got a great basketball program. You can name the Top Ten basketball programs in the country and Louisville and Kentucky are both in that group. I think this (UK) is the best. Louisville . . .they have a great program. I think that will be a hell of a situation because Denny has respect for me and I have respect for him.
Eddie Suuon Pleased With Position
What about the UK UL series? Is it damaging to the University of Kent-tucky?
Coach Sutton: I think Louisville's reporel probably lies within the area of Louisville. When you get 50 miles outside of Louisville maybe the majority of the fans will be for the Wildcats. But they have a great basketball program. So, I have no problems. I would think that if we played Louisville the next 20 years that with that series it would be a pretty even series -- playing in Louisville one year and Lexington the next. But that's okay. I hope people understand that it's a little more difficult to win today than it was a few years ago. There's a great pairity in college basketball. Everyone has good players. You just hope that during the season you play that you get some friendly calls by the officials and some lucky bounces.
About the recruiting in Louisville, do you plan to make an all-out effort to get the Louisville prep players?
Coach Sutton: We certainly do. Louisville produces great players. They (UL) have a little bit of an advantage, as a young man can stay right there and perhaps he can live at home with his mother and father. But we're going to go into Louisville hard.
How soon do you hope to have your staff?
Coach Sutton: I was so pleased that Leonard (Hamilton) decided to stay on. He and I are going recruiting todav.
But I'm not sure how quickly we'll move as far as naming other people.
How important is controlling your instate prep talent?
Coach Sutton: Very important, very important. You've got to control your home state talent. I would hope that every young person in this state wants to play for the University of Kentucky. I would have to believe that they do, and that's our first priority -- to control the talent in the state.
You had a few transfers at Arkansas, what's your philosophy of transfer players?
Coach Sutton: I've had a lot. You know when you catch 'em the second time around you kind of got their backs to the wall (Sutton smiles). They don't have any place to go. I'm not opposed to taking transfers. We have a young man from Tennessee and he's 7-foot-1 and he went to the University of Minnesota. They end up with three seven-footers, so he decided to transfer. He'll be a good player for the Razorbacks. So I'm not opposed to that.
What's the situation with the prep players you recruited at Arkansas?
Coach Sutton: I won't recruit any of them here. I spent Arkansas money so they ought to go to Arkansas.
What are your thoughts about the rule change and going to the 45-second clock?
Coach Sutton: Well, I'm on the rules committee and I voted for it and I think it's a good rule. If you can't get a shot off in 45 seconds well then you don't have very much of an offense. I think it's good for college basketball.
Are there any other rule changes that you want to see made?
Coach Sutton: We made a mistake when we voted that two-shot (rule) in the last few minutes of a basketball game without experimentation. I think you have to experiment before you can decide if it's good or not. There are a