Legendary Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson dies at 85
The coach who drew national attention to the University of Arizona's basketball program by turning it into an athletic powerhouse passed away Thursday.
CNN reports that Lute Olson, who coached the Arizona Wildcats for 24 seasons from 1983 to 2008, died at 85.
The impressive coach led the Wildcats to the 1997 national championship and then to three additional Final Four appearances. He won national Coach of the Year honors five times.
With 781 career coaching wins and a record of 589-187 at Arizona, Olson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
University of Arizona Director of Athletics Dave Heeke said in a statement, "Coach (Olson) was an iconic figure in college basketball who put the University of Arizona's basketball program on the map. Yet his legacy extends well beyond the court. He impacted thousands of lives, inspiring young men to reach beyond their potential and instilling service to others as a cornerstone of a person's character. He will be greatly missed by all who love the University of Arizona."
"Lute Olson was so much more than a basketball coach," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "He was an educator, a motivator, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend to so many. He was a true leader in every sense of the word and displayed such integrity and compassion in every endeavor. While Coach will no longer be with us, his presence will be felt for generations to come. On behalf of the University of Arizona, our community and generations of Wildcat fans, we extend our thoughts and prayers to the Olson family."
It’s hard to put into words how much Lute Olson meant to me.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! pic.twitter.com/GUvtSFr9Lm— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerr) August 28, 2020
Former Arizona coach and Hall of Famer Lute Olson passed way earlier tonight, his wife Kelly told me. Olson was 85 years old.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) August 28, 2020
My Ode to Lute: https://t.co/MZM7qf8zmP
My Ode to Lute:
In memory of Lute Olson, let's revisit the amazing Arizona Wildcats 1997 NCAA National Championship run.— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 28, 2020
Coach Olson's Wildcats are the only team in college hoops history to beat THREE No. 1 seeds en route to the title ?? https://t.co/785K676eDV pic.twitter.com/twTykManuN