TUCSON, Ariz. — KGUN9 has confirmed that legendary University of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson is gravely ill, as was first reported by the Arizona Daily Star's Greg Hansen on Tuesday. KGUN9 has also confirmed the 85-year-old Olson is receiving hospice care.
Olson was the head coach for the Arizona Wildcats men's basketball from 1983-2008, leading them to 1997 NCAA Championship. That team remains the only one to have beaten three No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Olson is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Olson was honored with a statue that stands outside the McKale Center in 2018. The construction of the statue coincided with the 30th anniversary of the 1988 Wildcat men's basketball team, which was the first of four Wildcat teams that Olson took to the Final Four. His teams won eleven Pac-10 regular season championships, and he won seven Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards.
Many of Olson's former players have gone on to have impressive careers in the NBA. As evidenced by his statute, he remains a very revered figure in Tucson.
Olson joined Arizona from the University of Iowa, who he led to the 1980 Final Four. Originally from North Dakota, Olson also coached at Long Beach State as well as Long Beach City College.
In 2019, Olson was admitted to University Medical Center Tucson for a minor stroke. It was his second stroke. Once a regular at Wildcat home basketball games, he has not been seen in public since.
In 2008, doctors told Olson he had an undiagnosed stroke earlier that year.