Sports Outside the Beltway

University of Arizona’s Lute Olson taking leave of absence

The coach of 1997 NCAA Champs issued a statement today.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona coach Lute Olson is taking a leave of absence for unspecified personal reasons.

In a statement issued by his public relations firm on Sunday, the 73-year-old Hall of Famer said the matter was not health related.


Olson said he wanted to “reassure everyone that this isn’t a health scare, but rather a personal matter that needs my undivided attention.”

The specific reason was not given.

“I want to thank everyone in advance for their support and prayers and request that the media respect my family’s privacy during this time,” he said.

Assistant coach Kevin O’Neill will assume Olson’s duties in his absence.


Olson has a 780-280 record in 34 seasons as a major college coach. In 24 years at Arizona, he is 589-187 with 23 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. His Wildcats have won 11 Pac-10 championships, reached the Final Four four times and won the 1997 NCAA title.

If I were to take a guess, it is that Coash Olson or a close family of his(wife, child, grandchild) has a serious medical issue. No matter what the reason, I wish the coach well and look forward to his return.

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