Arizona Athletics to Honor Lute Olson

Feb. 11, 2009

TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona department of athletics will host a series of events honoring legendary men's basketball coach Lute Olson and his Hall-of-Fame career.

The first such event will take place during Arizona's March 5 home game against California. A halftime ceremony will recognize the remarkable accomplishments of Olson's 25 years in Tucson. Olson, his family, former players and members of the Pac-10 community will be on hand to honor the coach both in person and on video.

The second such event will take place during the weekend of March 11-14 in Los Angeles, Calif., where Olson will be inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor at the Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament. Induction ceremonies are slated for Saturday, March 14.

The final events are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8. The public is invited to attend a ceremony in McKale Center that afternoon highlighting Olson's legacy. Later that evening a special dinner will be held for Olson and UA basketball lettermen.

'I can think of no better way to celebrate the career of Lute Olson than to share this recognition with his family, former players and fans,' said Jim Livengood, Arizona director of athletics. 'Lute wasn't just a U of A treasure, he was a Tucson treasure. This will give the community the chance to honor him and his outstanding legacy.'

Olson posted a career record of 780-280 (.736) in 34 seasons as an NCAA Division I head coach and was 589-187 (.759) in 24 years at Arizona. Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002, Olson is one of only 17 coaches in basketball history to tally 1,000 career victories (covering all levels; Olson also coached on the high school and junior college levels), and has the most Pac-10 wins (327) of any coach in league history.

During his quarter century at Arizona, the Wildcats won one national championship (1997), played in the national championship game (2001), participated in four Final Fours (1988, 1994, 1997, 2001), won 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, `89, `90, 2002) and participated in the NCAA Tournament in 23 consecutive seasons (currently 24), which is the longest active and second-longest streak in NCAA history (North Carolina, 27).

In his collegiate coaching career, Olson produced 52 NBA Draft picks, including 31 at Arizona, and coached 19 Wildcat All-Americans. He led UA to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons and had 29 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 29 or more 20-win seasons.

Wildcat fans and alumni can review the Lute Olson tribute page on the Arizona Athletics website at In addition, they can also leave their comment or favorite memory of Coach Olson on that page.

Further details will be announced as they become available. Such events were scheduled so that Olson's former players, many of whom have careers surrounding professional basketball, could be on hand to honor their coach.

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