Budke leaves Lady Techsters after three seasons

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Kurt Budke wanted to get back home so badly that he left a national powerhouse to try to build one from the ground up at Oklahoma State.

Budke, 44, left Louisiana Tech and its 24 straight NCAA Tournament appearances to join the Cowgirls on Monday as their new head coach. Oklahoma State hasn't made an NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996, and its 8-40 record in Big 12 play is the worst in the conference over the past three years.

"We are going to win. That changes right now," Budke told a room full of reporters and basketball supporters at the news conference to announce his hiring. Budke was given a five-year contract. Financial terms remain under negotiation.

Budke, 44, has coached the Lady Techsters to an 80-16 record and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances after replacing longtime coach Leon Barmore in 2002. Budke had been an assistant under Barmore, who built Louisiana Tech into a national powerhouse, for two seasons before that.

"Every move that I've made in my career was for an opportunity to come back home to Big 12 country," Budke said. "I grew up right in the middle of the Big Eight in Salina, Kan. I lived and breathed the Big Eight. When they added those four in Texas, I guess that was alright. I'll always be a Big Eight guy."

Budke said the opportunity to coach at the same institution as Henry Iba and Eddie Sutton -- two coaches with more than 750 wins apiece -- was also too great to pass up.

"Two of the greatest legends in the history of basketball, and I get to be on the same floor and coach. I am truly humbled today," said Budke, who followed Barmore's 576 wins, nine Final Four appearances and one national title at Louisiana Tech.

"I guess the good news is I didn't have to follow either one of them. You better believe me, I know what it's like to follow a legend, and I don't want to do it again anytime soon," he said.

Budke replaces Julie Goodenough, who led the Cowgirls to a 23-61 record in three seasons -- their worst three-year stretch in school history. He faces the difficult task of building a program in an increasingly powerful Big 12 Conference.

He said he planned to bring a fast-paced offense and play man-to-man defense 98 percent of the time.

"You're going to see 40 minutes of fight every night we play," Budke said. "These young ladies will be the first on the floor, be the first to loose balls, be the first to rebound, trying to win every single possession that goes on during a basketball game.

"If it's good enough to win, then we're going to win. If it's not, you're going to enjoy coming to the game and watching them work," he said.

Budke brings the most important credentials Oklahoma State was seeking -- a record of success at the Division I level and a familiarity with women's basketball in the region.

His Lady Techsters were undefeated in the Western Athletic Conference during his first two seasons, and they split the conference title with Rice after a 14-4 league record this season.

Before his time at Louisiana Tech, Budke became one of the premier junior college coaches at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.

He won four National Junior College Athletic Association championships, lost in the title game twice in seven seasons at Trinity Valley and is already a member of the NJCAA Hall of Fame. Including two previous seasons at Allen County Community College in Iola, Kan., Budke had a 273-31 record in nine seasons at the junior college level.

"I think he's proven that he is a winner and that he has the help to build, to maintain and to improve programs wherever he's been," athletic director Harry Birdwell said. "He has all the proven traits of program-building and success."

Budke played college basketball at Barton County (Kan.) Community College and Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. He has a bachelor's degree in physical education from Washburn and a master's degree in science from Wichita State.

He and his wife Shelley -- a Wichita, Kan., native -- have a 15-year-old daughter, Sara, and two sons, Alex, 12, and Brett, 9.