Arkansas Plane Crash Kills Oklahoma State Women’s Basketball Coaches
The accident happened at around 4:30 pm local time when a fixed wing single-engine Piper PA-28 (N7746W) aircraft went down in a wooded area some four miles (6.4 km) south of Perryville, a city in Perry County in central Arkansas. Four people were on board.
Oklahoma State University (OSU) President Burns Hargis said basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant women’s basketball coach Miranda Serna were killed in the accident. The two other people on board, including the pilot, were also killed but not affiliated with the university.
“The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy,” Hargis said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims.”
Hargis praised Budke as an “exemplary leader” and a “man of character” who had a profound impact on his student-athletes. “He was an outstanding coach and a wonderful person. We send our deepest sympathies to his wife, Shelley, and their children, Sara, Alex and Brett,” he added.
Mike Holder, OSU vice president for athletics, said the University is shocked by the “terrible loss.” “Kurt Budke was an incredibly positive influence on his players and was a tremendous coach,” he said. “He quickly turned our program around and put Cowgirl basketball on the map. Miranda was a tireless worker and great recruiter.”
Holder said Jim Littell, associate head coach, would assume duties as interim head coach. The university announced the Cowgirls will not play games scheduled Saturday and Sunday, and OSU counselors and athletic staff are offering assistance to the Cowgirl student-athletes and staff.
Budke was in his seventh season as Cowgirl coach, with an all-time record of 112-83. His team was 1-0 after a convincing victory over Rice on Sunday. Under his direction, OSU made postseason appearances each of the past five seasons, including three trips to the NCAA tournament.
In the 2009-10 season, the Cowgirls won 24 games, including a school-record six victories against Top 25 teams, achieved a top-10 national ranking for the first time ever and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
It was not immediately known what caused Thursday’s accident. Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the crash.