TUCSON, Ariz. - Lute Olson was the figure that brought a sense of pride to Arizona's basketball program as he became one of the greatest coaches of all-time. Now, his likeness will be forever on display with a statue at Mckale Center.
The statue, which will be completed in March of 208, will be located north of the Jim Click Hall of Champions on the Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion Plaza.
"We're thrilled to recognize Coach Olson, not just for what he accomplished on the basketball court, but for what he means to Arizona and our community," Heeke said. "Through the success of Arizona basketball, Lute helped introduce people around the country to our University and this city, and he forever changed the trajectory and perception of our athletics department. His legendary status is worthy of this honor, and we're proud that his statue will be visible to the thousands of people that visit McKale on a yearly basis."
Olson was the head coach at Arizona for 24 seasons and compiled a 589-187 (.759) record. He led the Wildcats to the 1997 National Championship, four Final Four appearances, 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and 11 Pac-10 titles, while earning Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors seven times. Olson also guided Arizona to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons, and, at the time of his retirement, was one of only three coaches in NCAA history to record 29 or more 20-win seasons. For all of his accomplishments, Olson was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
"This is a wonderful honor and I'm grateful to the people at Arizona who made the decision to put up a statue," Olson stated. "I was fortunate to have a successful career that spanned a number of different locations, but Tucson and the University of Arizona have become my home. I'm deeply touched at this recognition and I want to thank all of the staff members, student-athletes and fans, who made, and continue to make, my life at Arizona something special."
The construction of the statue coincides with the 30th anniversary of the 1988 men's basketball team. The '88 team was the first in program history to qualify for the Final Four. They also won Pac-10 regular season and tournament championships en route to a 35-3 record.
The statue project is estimated to cost about $300,000.