At 74 years of age and 24 years as the Arizona Wildcats head men’s basketball coach, 34 years total, Lute Olson has finally decided to retire. Allegedly Olson is physically unable to continue, but an illness has not been confirmed. When asked his reasons for retiring, Olson answered,
“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.”
Olson racked up 780 wins as a head coach, 589 of those wins were with Arizona and the others were earned during tenures at Iowa and Long Beach State. The Hall-of-Fame coach led the Wildcats to 24 consecutive NCAA tourney appearances, 12 conference titles, 5 Final Fours and a national title in 1997.
Olson’s replacement will be Russ Pennell, the former Arizona State assistant, this will be Pennell’s first head coaching position.