OSU coach killed in plane crash began career at KCKCC in 1990
Former Kansas City Kansas Community College women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke was killed in a crash of a single-engine plane in which he was riding in central Arkansas Thursday night.
The head women’s basketball coach at Oklahoma State University, Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna, the plane’s pilot and another passenger were all killed while on a recruiting trip. The plane crashed in a steep terrain in the Winona Wildlife Management Area near Perryville, about 45 miles west of Little Rock, about 7 p.m. Thursday.
Budke, 50, got his start in coaching women’s basketball in 1990 when he was asked to take over the KCKCC’s women’s program after Frank Bigham stepped down a week before the start of the season. An assistant for three years to KCKCC men’s coach Dan Pratt, Budke continued his duties as Pratt’s assistant while coaching the Lady Blue Devils.
With but a handful of players, the team showed considerable improvement over the course of the season although finishing with a 3-27 record. Budke never left the women’s coaching ranks after that season, moving to Allen County where his first team finished 22-8 and was ranked No. 17 in the nation. The following year, he was the Jayhawk East Coach of the Year after Allen finished 25-7.
From there, he moved to Trinity Valley in Texas where he won four national championships and had two national runner-up squads in seven seasons. Compiling a 226-26 record in those seven seasons, he was NJCAA National Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1998 and was the youngest coach to ever be inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame.
In 2000, he became associate head coach at Louisiana Tech, a perennial NCAA Division I women’s power. After the Lady Techsters posted a combed 56-10 record in two seasons, Budke took over as head coach, compiling an 80-16 record and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances in three seasons and earning Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors.
Named head coach at Oklahoma State in 2005, Budke orchestrated one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Big 12 history. Taking a team that was winless in Big 12 play in 2005-06, Budke had the Cowgirls in the NCAA Sweet 16 two years later.
A native of Salina where he led Salina Scared heart to the Class 3A state championship in 1979 with 24 points and 15 rebounds a game, Budke played two years of basketball at Barton County Community College and then finished his undergraduate work at Washburn where he played on the Ichabods’ NAIA district championship team. Prior to joining the KCKCC staff, Budke served four years as an assistant coach at Friends University in Wichita.
Budke is survived by his wife, the former Shelley Balthazor, and three children, Sara, a student at Oklahoma State; Alex and Brett.