Former U of A Coach Lute Olsen Passes Away


Lia Ghirardi, Reporter

The greatest coach in Arizona basketball history has died. Lute Olson, the man who guided the University of Arizona to an unlikely 1997 NCAA Tournament championship, died Thursday at the age of 85.  The cause of death has not been confirmed at this time, but Olsen has been battling health issues since a minor stroke in early 2019. He was reported to have been in hospice care 2 days prior to his death.

Olsen also lead the team to 4 Final Four events, seven Elite Eights, and 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments. As a coach for the U of A, he was extremely successful and brought lots of hope to Wildcat fans and the team itself. Yes, he was very well known to be an amazing coach, but his slicked back classy hair always had an impact while on the court as well. Olson turned the Wildcats into a powerhouse, transforming his program into one of the 10 biggest and most successful ones in the sport for most of his tenure.

Not only was he an amazing coach but a Hall of Famer. He was a 2002 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. He coached at the U of A for 25 years. Lute won a few awards for his outstanding work as a coach, including the Legends of Coaching Award, and the Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Men’s Basketball Award. He also got to carry out lots of successes knowing he helped the team excel so much.

CBS Sports reports, “Olson is survived by his third wife, Kelly, five children (Vicki, Jody, Christi, Greg and Steve) and 14 grandchildren. His coaching legacy continues thanks to his granddaughter, Julie Hairgrove, who is an assistant with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and his grandson, Matt Brase, an assistant with the Houston Rockets.”

College basketball has lost a legend, but he will always be remembered and will always be an amazing part to U of A basketball history. Rest In Peace Lute Olsen. Thank you for everything you’ve done to keep Tucson on the charts. You will be deeply missed by the U of A community.
September 22, 1934 – August 27, 2020