MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The deaths of Oklahoma State women’s basketball head coach Kurt Budke and his assistant Miranda Serna sent a shock through the women's basketball team at the University of Memphis. Assistant coach Brett Schneider couldn't believe it. He's close friends and has worked with both of those coaches.
"It's just tough letting it all seep in and realize they lost their lives last night,” says Schneider.
Budke and Serna were on a recruiting trip when their plane crashed in a wooded area northwest of Little Rock. A total of four people died in the crash. The cause of the accident is unknown.
Over the years, Schneider would see Serna in similar trips and they remained close friends.
“Coach Serna was a wonderful human being, very vivacious, and just really a quality individual who made a lot of people smile," Shneider tells abc24.com. "She almost always wore her Oklahoma State orange gear wherever she went."
Schneider also played one season of college ball at Trinidad Junior College in Texas. That was the same college where Budke coached the women's team.
“I would go by and watch them practice my first few years in college,” Schneider says.
The Tigers basketball players can understand how the loss is so hard for the Oklahoma players.
"Our head coach is like our mom and she cares a lot about us," says Tigers basketball forward Kiana James. “We're very close. My teammates are basically my sisters and we have a very good bond with each other, as well as the coaches. So I would be very devastated if anything happened to them.”
Schneider says Memphis is fortunate to have charter flights and to ride big jets compared to the small plane that crashed. He says on behalf of his team and the university their prayers go out to everyone at Oklahoma State.
This is not the first plane crash tragedy for Oklahoma State basketball. In 2001 it was the men's team. Ten people, including two players and several athletic department employees, were killed in that crash.