Oct. 23, 2008
TUCSON, Ariz. - Lute Olson announced today that he will retire as head coach of The University of Arizona men's basketball team, effective immediately.
UA Athletics Director Jim Livengood announced that a national search will begin soon to find a permanent replacement.
"This was not a decision that was made lightly," Olson said. "I've had a wonderful run at The University of Arizona. I leave with a great sense of pride in what we have accomplished here."
"At this stage in my life, I want to devote my time to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, family and friends. I look forward to watching Wildcat basketball and visiting with my colleagues in the coaching profession. It is time to pass the program on to a younger staff, to transition the university to the next generation of basketball."
"To my family, all of the players who have put on our uniform, our fans in Tucson and all of the great supporters of this basketball program, I offer my heartfelt thanks for your support, and I look forward to reconnecting with each of you," Olson said. "The University of Arizona will always be a basketball school. It will continue to flourish."
UA President Robert N. Shelton said, "Lute Olson transformed the UA and Tucson into premier basketball country. Arizona now stands in the company of great college basketball programs, and we have Lute to thank for that. We will sorely miss his brilliance as our head coach, but we will benefit from the legacy he leaves for decades to come."
"We will never replace Lute Olson. But we do have to find a successor, and we have to move quickly," Livengood said. "I intend to recruit a coach who is worthy to inherit Lute's astounding legacy."
The announcement from Olson, who has served as Arizona's head coach since before any of his current team members were born, marked the end of a remarkable era in UA sports.
He was Arizona's head coach for 25 years, starting in 1983. His leadership made the UA a national powerhouse in basketball, thrilling generations of fans in 25 consecutive appearances in the NCAA basketball tournament that included four Final Four appearances, two national championship matchups and one national title.
Olson has a career record of 780-280 (.736) in 34 seasons as an NCAA Division I head coach and 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 16 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 have 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 been to the NCAA Tournament for 23 consecutive seasons, which is the longest active and second-longest streak in NCAA history (North Carolina, 27).
In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 52 NBA Draft picks, including 31 at Arizona, and coached 19 Wildcat All-Americans. He's led UA to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 29 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 29 or more 20-win seasons.