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Oklahoma State women's coaches die in Ark. plane crash

FILE -- In this March 20, 2010 file photo, Oklahoma State women's basketball head coach Kurt Budke reacts during the first half of an NCAA first-round college basketball game against Chattanooga, in Tempe, Ariz. Oklahoma State University says Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash in central Arkansas. The university said in a news release Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 that the two were on a recruiting trip to Arkansas when the plane crashed near Perryville, about 45 miles west of Little Rock. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

FILE -- In this March 20, 2010 file photo, Oklahoma State women's basketball head coach Kurt Budke reacts during the first half of an NCAA first-round college basketball game against Chattanooga, in Tempe, Ariz. Oklahoma State University says Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash in central Arkansas. The university said in a news release Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 that the two were on a recruiting trip to Arkansas when the plane crashed near Perryville, about 45 miles west of Little Rock. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State University women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed when the single-engine plane they were riding in during a recruiting trip crashed in a steep terrain in central Arkansas, the university confirmed Friday morning.

The university said the pair died in the crash around 7 p.m. Thursday night in the Winona Wildlife Management Area near Perryville, about 45 miles west of Little Rock. The plane's pilot and another passenger also died in the crash, but their names were not immediately released. OSU said they were not affiliated with the university.

"There were no survivors," the university statement said.

The crash is the second major tragedy for the sports program in about decade. In January 2001, 10 men affiliated with the university's men's basketball team died in a Colorado plane crash, prompting the university to require that planes used by the school's sports team undergo safety checks before travel.

Oklahoma State canceled its women's college basketball home games set for Saturday and Sunday. The school's second-ranked college football team plays Friday night at Iowa State.

University president Burns Hargis credited Budke with elevating the team in a tough program. Serna, he said, set a good example for the players.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims. Kurt was an exemplary leader and a man of character who had a profound impact on his student-athletes," Hargis said. "Miranda was an up-and-coming coach and an outstanding role model for our young ladies."

OSU hired Budke from Louisiana Tech seven years ago and the coach compiled a 112-83 record at the school. This year's team was 1-0 after defeating Rice on Sunday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending investigators, and that it could take nine months to determine the cause of the crash.

The plane that crashed in 2001, a Beechcraft King Air 200, had been donated by a school booster.

On Jan. 27, 2001, one of three planes carrying players and others connected to the OSU men's basketball team crashed in a field 40 miles east of Denver as the Cowboys returned from a game at Colorado. The crash occurred about 35 minutes after the plane took off in light snow.

An NTSB report cited a power loss aboard the plane and said the pilot suffered disorientation while flying the plane manually with still-available instruments.

After that crash, the university began requiring a firm to check out the condition of any plane used by a school sports team. It wasn't immediately known if that policy also applied to planes that carry only coaches or other school employees, or if the plane the women's coaches were traveling in had undergone an independent check.

Thursday night, the weather near the crash site was clear with temperatures in the upper 30s to mid-40s.