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Oklahoma State Women’s Basketball Coach Killed in Plane Crash

Oklahoma State
This Nov. 9, 2011 photo shows Oklahoman State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna during an an exhibition women’s NCAA college basketball game against Fort Hays State, in Stillwater, Okla. Budke and Serna were killed when the single-engine plane they were riding in during a recruiting trip crashed near a wildlife management area in central Arkansas. The university said the pair died in the crash Thursday night, Nov. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Bryan Terry)
Oklahoma State
This Nov. 9, 2011 photo shows Oklahoman State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Bryan Terry)

Ten years after 10 men involved in Oklahoma State’s men’s basketball team died in a plane crash, the university had to mourn the lives of the woman’s basketball coach and his assistant after they died in a plane crash on their way to a recruiting trip Thursday afternoon, the university said.

Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and his assistant, Miranda Serna were killed when the single-engine plane crashed in Perry County, Arkansas. The pilot, Olin Branstetter, 82, a former state senator, and his 79-year-old wife, Paula Branstetter, were also killed when the plane took a nosedive and crashed. There were no survivors.

“The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy,” OSU President Burns Hargis, said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims.”

This is the second major tragedy the university has had to deal with in 10 years. In January 2011, 10 men involved in the basketball team, including some players, died in a plane crash near Denver just 35 minutes after take off.

“When something like this happens and, God forbid it happened again, we have to pull together as a family. We’ve got to try to do that,” Hargis said, according to the Associated Press.

Budke was in his seventh season as coach of the team, with a record of 112-83. The Cowgirls defeated Rice on Saturday for their first win of the season.

“Kurt was an exemplary leader and a man of character who had a profound impact on his student-athletes,” Hargis said, of Budke, who coached his team to five straight postseason appearances. “He was an outstanding coach and a wonderful person.” He is survived by his wife and three children.

Hargis added: “Coach Budke elevated our women’s basketball program to new levels of success. He and his staff raised our profile in the nation’s toughest conference.”

Serna, an assistant coach, was also in her seventh year with the team.

“Miranda was an up-and-coming coach and an outstanding role model for our young ladies,” Hargis said.

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