Updated at 5 p.m.
Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna have died after the plane they were on crashed on Thursday afternoon in Perry County, Ark.
In a news release, the school said the pilot and another individual not affiliated with Oklahoma State also died.
This is the second tragedy to strike the school’s basketball program over the last 10 years. Only 10 months ago the school commemorated the 10th anniversary of a plane crash in Colorado that killed two players , four team officials, a play-by-play announcer, a radio engineer and two pilots.
“The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy,” OSU president Burns Hargis said Friday in the statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims.”
Former Oklahoma state Sen. Olin Branstetter, 82, was the pilot of the plane, which crashed in the Winona Wildlife Management Area near Perryville, about 45 miles west of Little Rock. Branstetter’s wife, Paula, 79, was also aboard the single-engine Piper plane which spiraled out of control and nosedived into the forest.
After inheriting a struggling Cowgirls team that went winless in the Big 12 in his first season, Budke led his team to five consecutive postseason appearances. Just two years after he took the helm, Budke guided the 2007-08 Cowgirls to a program-record 27 wins and only their second Sweet 16 appearance.
Oklahoma State beat Rice in its season opener on Sunday and was scheduled to play home games against Grambling State and Texas-Arlington this weekend. Both games have been cancelled.
The Jan. 2001 crash killed redshirt freshman guard Nate Fleming, junior guard Dan Lawson, OSU radio broadcaster and local TV sports anchor Bill Teegins, TV and radio engineer Kendall Durfey, media relations coordinator Will Hancock, director of basketball operations Pat Noyes, athletic trainer Brian Luinstra, student assistant Jared Weiberg and the pilot and co-pilot of the plane.
“This is our worst nightmare. The entire OSU family is very close, very close indeed,” Hargis said at a news conference. “To lose anyone, especially these two individuals who are incredible life forces in our family, it is worse beyond words.”
Jan. 24, 2002 — Oklahoma State still grieving one year after crash