mcloudyn.png
Tuesday September 22nd, 2020 3:13AM

Lute Olson, Hall of Fame coach, Arizona icon, dies at 85

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Lute Olson, the Hall of Fame coach who turned Arizona into a college basketball powerhouse and led the program to its lone national title in 1997, has died. He was 85.

Olson’s family said he died Thursday evening. The cause of death wasn’t given.

“Coach Olson is the absolute best, one of the greatest coaches ever and one of the greatest human beings ever,” Georgia Tech coach and former Arizona player Josh Pastner tweeted. “My feelings of gratitude and appreciation cannot be put in words. I love him dearly. My heart hurts, but I know he is now in heaven. May god bless his family. #RIP”

Olson spent 24 seasons at Arizona, revitalizing a fan base in the desert while transforming a program that had been to the NCAA Tournament just three times in 79 years before he was hired in 1983.

Olson first took the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament during his second season in Tucson to start a string of 25 straight appearances. The streak would have been the third-longest in NCAA history, but the 1999 and 2008 appearances were later vacated by the NCAA for impermissible benefits to players and recruiting violations.

The Wildcats won a national championship under Olson in 1997 with a team led by Mike Bibby, Jason Terry and Miles Simon. Olson's Arizona teams reached the Final Four four times and lost the 2001 national title game to Duke.

“It’s hard to put into words how much Lute Olson meant to me,” Warriors and former Olson player Steve Kerr tweeted. “He was an amazing coach & a wonderful man. Being part of the U of A basketball family changed my life forever. I will never forget Coach O, those awesome nights at McKale and all my teammates. Thank you Coach- I love you!”

Olson won a school-record 589 games at Arizona, 11 Pac-10 titles and was named the conference coach of the year seven times. He led Arizona to 20 straight 20-win seasons and is one of five coaches in NCAA history with 29 seasons of at least 20 wins.

Olson's 327 conference victories are most in Pac-10/12 history and he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002. A statue of Olson holding the national title trophy was unveiled outside McKale Center in 2018.

“It’s rare that a man is a Hall of Famer and still under appreciated,” former Arizona and NBA player Richard Jefferson tweeted. “I’ll always feel like you never got the credit you deserved as a leader, family man, grandfather, coach and as a mentor. I love you Coach O.”

Olson had a series of health issues late in his coaching career, leading to his retirement in 2008.

Arizona announced minutes before the 2007-08 season opener that Olson would take an indefinite leave of absence. Associate head coach Kevin O'Neill coached the Wildcats on an interim basis the rest of the season.

Olson was set to return for the 2008-09 season, but the school announced his retirement after he missed practice and a function in Tucson. His doctor held a news conference five days later, saying Olson had an initially undiagnosed stroke earlier in the year, causing depression and impaired judgment. Olson also was hospitalized in 2019 after suffering a minor stroke.

Olson remained in Tucson and became a regular at McKale Center during his retirement, drawing cheers every time he appeared on the video board. The floor at McKale Center was named Lute & Bobbi Olson Court in 2001 in honor of Olson and his first wife, Bobbi.

Bobbi Olson died in 2001 due to complications from ovarian cancer. Olson remarried twice and is survived by his third wife, Kelly, and five children.

“I will miss seeing him at our home games and hearing our crowd yell, ‘Lute!’” current Arizona coach Sean Miller said in a statement “My family joins all of the current members of the Arizona Basketball program in sending our condolences and prayers to his wife, Kelly, and the entire Olson Family. I am forever grateful to be a part of the basketball program and community that he impacted so immensely. Coach O will certainly be missed, but always remembered by us.”

Born on a farm outside Mayville, North Dakota, on Sept. 22, 1934, Olson led his high school team to the 1952 state championship and was a three-sport athlete at Augsburg College in Minnesota from 1953 to 1956.

Olson started his career as a high school coach in Minnesota and Southern California before becoming the head coach at Long Beach City College, where he won the state junior college title in 1971.

He spent one season at Long Beach State before going on to coach nine seasons at Iowa. He led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament his final five seasons, including a trip to the 1980 Final Four.

Olson had a career record of 780-280 in 34 years as a Division I coach.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, Top General short headlines, College Sports, AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Lute Olson, Hall of Fame coach, Arizona icon, dies at 85
Lute Olson, the Hall of Fame coach who turned Arizona into a college basketball powerhouse, has died
12:00AM ( 11 minutes ago )
The Latest: GOP convention wraps up with opera, fireworks
The Republican National Convention — the first political convention ever held at the White House — has ended with opera and fireworks
11:57PM ( 14 minutes ago )
The Latest: China nears full re-opening of schools
China has begun moving into its final weekend before a full re-opening of schools amid continuing measures to prevent any further spread of coronavirus
11:51PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Column: Extraordinary day hopefully leads US to better place
The day was extraordinary, unleashing a movement that played out in real time,
11:26PM ( 45 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Jackie Robinson celebrated amid protests, PPDs
MLB is set to celebrate the man who broke baseball’s color barrier amid a striking — if sometimes awkward — display of activism by players this week
10:35PM ( 1 hour ago )
Mets, Marlins walk off field in social injustice protest
The New York Mets and Miami Marlins jointly walked off the field after a moment of silence, draping a Black Lives Matter T-shirt across home plate as they chose not to play
9:44PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Jaguars' Conley calls on NFL QBs to lead charge for change
Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Chris Conley is calling on “figures who are the face of the league” to do more to fight social injustice
6:47PM ( 5 hours ago )
Trump: NBA has become like 'a political organization'
President Donald Trump says the NBA has become like “a political organization” as he criticized the league the day after player protests over police brutality led to the postponement of three scheduled playoff games
4:10PM ( 8 hours ago )
Black players call on NHL to postpone playoff games
Members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance are asking the NHL to suspend playing its two second-round playoff games on Thursday in response to Jacob Blake being shot by police in Wisconsin
3:10PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
The Latest: Trump sprinkles RNC speech with swing states
President Donald Trump is sprinkling into his convention speech mentions of swing states he needs to win in November, framing them as states Democratic nominee Joe Biden has betrayed
11:26PM ( 45 minutes ago )
GOP convention takeaways: What virus? Fear motivates
President Donald Trump refused to allow the coronavirus to deny him the crowd he craved for the Republican National Convention
11:24PM ( 47 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump lauds virus response that left 180K dead
President Donald Trump is lauding the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, despite the country having by far the highest confirmed case count and highest death toll in the world
11:17PM ( 54 minutes ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Ivanka Trump says dad called out DC's hypocrisy
Ivanka Trump says Washington hates her father because he has called out its hypocrisy
10:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
Republican convention takeaways: What virus? Fear motivates
President Donald Trump demanded a show for the final night of the Republican National Convention
10:08PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Carson offers sympathy to Blake's family at RNC
Housing Secretary Ben Carson is offering sympathies to the family of Jacob Blake, the Kenosha, Wisconsin, man whose shooting by police has sparked deadly violence
9:43PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Nebraska players' lawsuit seeks to restore B10 fall football
A group of Nebraska football players filed a lawsuit asking a jury to force the Big Ten Conference to reinstate a fall football season
2:52PM ( 9 hours ago )
NC State at Va Tech postponed 2 weeks amid COVID-19 cases
North Carolina State's opening football game at Virginia Tech has been postponed for two weeks — from Sept. 12 to Sept. 26 — because of a cluster of COVID-19 cases among Wolfpack athletes
2:31PM ( 1 day ago )
NC State at Virginia Tech postponed amid COVID-19 cases
North Carolina State's opening football game at Virginia Tech has been postponed for two weeks — from Sept. 12 to Sept. 26 — because of a cluster of COVID-19 cases among Wolfpack athletes
1:42PM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
The Latest: NC State pauses all athletic activities
North Carolina State has halted all athletics activities due to a coronavirus cluster within its programs
7:24PM ( 3 days ago )
Hawkeyes drop 4 sports amid financial crisis tied to virus
Iowa will drop four sports programs as part of the athletic department’s response to a projected loss of $100 million in revenue because of the pandemic
3:33PM ( 6 days ago )
NCAA cancels fall championships as major football marches on
The NCAA will not conduct fall championship events _ a move that does not affect major college football _ because not enough schools are competing in sports such as men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball
7:56PM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
The Latest: GOP convention wraps up with opera, fireworks
The Republican National Convention — the first political convention ever held at the White House — has ended with opera and fireworks
11:57PM ( 15 minutes ago )
The Latest: China nears full re-opening of schools
China has begun moving into its final weekend before a full re-opening of schools amid continuing measures to prevent any further spread of coronavirus
11:51PM ( 21 minutes ago )
5th federal execution of 2020 on again after late ruling
The scheduled federal execution of a 10-year-old Kansas girl’s killer was back on track after an appellate panel tossed a lower court’s ruling that would have required the government to get a drug prescription before it could use pentobarbital to kill the inmate
11:45PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Kenosha shooting strains relationship between Blacks, police
Until the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the bedroom community of Kenosha, Wisconsin, had been largely untouched by the level of demonstrations that were seen in nearby Milwaukee and Chicago after the death of George Floyd
11:43PM ( 29 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump sprinkles RNC speech with swing states
President Donald Trump is sprinkling into his convention speech mentions of swing states he needs to win in November, framing them as states Democratic nominee Joe Biden has betrayed
11:26PM ( 45 minutes ago )