Oral Roberts President Told Coach Not to Recruit Tattooed Players, Test Faith

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Scott Sutton of the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles gestures to his players as they take on the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns during the 2014 MGM Grand Main Event basketball tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 25, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Louisiana-Lafayette won 76-52.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Oral Roberts basketball coach Scott Sutton—who was fired Monday—reportedly was given strict recruiting guidelines during his tenure. 

Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World reported on the firing and cited sources who said Oral Roberts president Billy Wilson told the basketball program "to recruit only professed Christians" when he took over in 2013.

Scott Pfeil of KOTV in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shared a report from the station's John Holcomb on the guidelines that also stipulated recruits not have tattoos:

Scott Pfeil @scottpfeil

.@holcombOKBLITZ breaks down the #ORU firing of Scott Sutton. https://t.co/Ep724jLwfL

In addition to the recruiting mandates, Haisten noted Sutton said he learned of his firing from others who read about it on social media instead of directly hearing it from Wilson or athletic director Mike Carter.

There was a dramatic difference between the early days of Sutton's time with Oral Roberts and the latter years from a win-loss perspective. He finished with a winning record in 14 straight years from 2001-02 to 2014-15, with five regular-season conference titles during the span. The team also played in three straight NCAA tournaments from 2006 to 2008 and even beat Kansas in the 2006-07 campaign under Sutton's watch.

By contrast, the Golden Eagles were a combined 22-39 the last two seasons after narrowing their pool of potential recruits.

Kansas coach Bill Self, who used to coach at Oral Roberts, weighed in on the situation in March, per Haisten:

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Your pool of (potential recruits) has been decreased tremendously. There were a lot of people whose lives were changed–people whose entire outlook was changed because of their experience at ORU.

Whether it was through osmosis–being around people of faith–it might have changed the lives of a lot of athletes. It would be sad to eliminate those types of kids.

In all, Sutton coached 18 seasons at Oral Roberts and amassed a 328-247 record.

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