In stunning and tragic news, the Oklahoma State University Cowgirl basketball team has lost two key members of their coaching staff after a plane crash. Head coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna both perished in the single engine plane crash Thursday night in mountainous terrain near Perry County, Arkansas. Two others on the aircraft – the pilot and his wife – also died. There were no survivors.
Budke and Serna were on a recruiting trip before this weekend’s previously scheduled double-header, which has now been cancelled.
“The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy,” said OSU President Burns Hargis in a release. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims.”
Mike Holder, OSU vice president for athletics, said, “We are shocked by this terrible loss. Kurt Budke was an incredibly positive influence on his players and was a tremendous coach. He quickly turned our program around and put Cowgirl basketball on the map. Miranda was a tireless worker and great recruiter.”
Budke, 50, who was in his seventh season at OSU, guided the team to tremendous success under his watch, including five consecutive postseason bids and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2008. The Cowgirls were 112-83 under Budke including a resounding win over Rice just last Sunday. But more than an amazing coach, Budke was an exemplary man who will never be forgotten nor replaced.
Serna, also in her seventh season with OSU, worked with Budke at Louisiana Tech before coming to Stillwater to help the resurgence of the OSU women’s basketball as the program’s recruiting coordinator..The Guadalupita, N.M. native led her high school squad to a 46-0 record and two consecutive state championships before becoming the first member in her family to go to college. At Trinity Valley Community College Serna helped her team win the NJCAA national title in 1996 and went on to finish her collegiate career at Houston.
In a press conference this morning at Gallagher-Iba Arena, Hargis described the crash as a “worst nightmare” for a university that experienced a plane crash tragedy that claimed the lives of 10 men associated with the men’s basketball program in 2001.
“At the point we are right now, it looks very dark ahead, and it’s hard to see any light at all,” Hargis said. “If we really help each other support each other through this, someday, somehow we will manage. … Just as with our tragedy 10 years ago, we will remember.”
Our hearts go out to the entire OSU basketball community and the families affected by this tragedy.
Memorial services are pending.