Oklahoma State coaches die in plane crash in mountainous terrain
Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were on a recruiting trip for the OSU Cowgirls on when their single-engine plane crashed Thursday evening in mountainous terrain in Arkansas.
Budke and Serna died along with the pilot and another individual, who was not affiliated with the university. There were no survivors in the crash of the plane in the eastern Ouachita Mountains in Perry County, Ark.
The cause of the crash has not been announced, and, according to the Associated Press, the National Transportation Safety Board said it could take nine months for its investigators to determine the reason the plane went down.
Budke, 50, had been the Cowgirls' coach since 2005. He helped transform a team that had been winless in the Big 12 in his first season to a perennial conference contender.
Serna had been an assistant for Budke for seven seasons, including a stint at Louisiana Tech.
The Cowgirls opened the season Sunday with a 96-60 win over Rice in Stillwater.
OSU President Burns Hargis said Friday in a statement that the school was "devastated by this tragedy."
Associate head coach Jim Littell will take over as head interim head coach. The team's weekend games against Grambling State and Texas-Arlington have been canceled.
Budke is survived by his wife, Shelly, and three children, Sara, Alex and Brett. Sara is a student at Oklahoma State.
Mens' basketball Coach Travis Ford told reporters that he went to Budke's house as soon as he heard about the crash.
"I just found out and there are so many unanswered questions," Ford said. "I just saw him. We talked every single day. He came to my shootarounds. It just doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem real."
-- Melissa Rohlin
Photo: In January, Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke talks with guard Tiffany Bias in the first half of a game against Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla. Credit: Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press