Lute Olson

Lute Olson (1934-2020)

Teams coached: Long Beach State 49ers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Arizona Wildcats
Long Beach State record: 24-2 (.923)
Iowa record: 167-91 (.647)
Arizona record: 589-187 (.759) **
Overall record^: 780-280 (.736) **

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  1  (1997)
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  27  (1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007) **
  • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen:  13  (1980, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005)
  • NCAA Tournament Final Four:  5  (1980, 1988, 1994, 1997, 2001)
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  0
  • Pac-12 Regular Season Champion:  11  (1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005)
  • Big Ten Regular Season Champion:  1  (1979)
  • PCAA Regular Season Champion:  1  (1974)
  • Pac-12 Tournament Champion:  4  (1988, 1989, 1990, 2002)

Awards:

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1983-2007 Arizona
1974-1983 Iowa
1973-1974 Long Beach State
1969-1973 Long Beach CC

Lute Olson Facts

  • Robert Luther Olson
  • Born September 22, 1934
  • Died August 27, 2020
  • Hometown: Mayville, North Dakota
  • Alma Mater: Augsburg College (BA, 1956)
  • Started coaching at the high school level, spending 13 years coaching at high schools at Minnesota and California
  • First job at the college level was a four-year stint at Long Beach City College, where he won three conference titles and the California JUCO State Championship in 1971
  • Best known for his 24-year tenure as head coach at Arizona, where he won 589 games and went to 22 NCAA Tournaments (reached five Final Fours)
    • His 1997 National Championship team at Arizona is the only team in tournament history to beat three #1 seeds
    • Led the USA Men’s National Basketball Team to a gold medal at the 1986 FIBA World Championship in Spain, as well as a gold medal at the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow
    • Took a leave of absence for the full 2007-08 season, with the team being coached in the interim by Kevin O’Neill
  • Olson was set to return to the sidelines for the 2008-2009 season, but formally announced his retirement in October, just days before the season was set to begin – the team was coached by Russ Pennell
    • It was announced shortly after his retirement that Olson had suffered an undiagnosed stroke earlier in the year and the effects (including a blood clot and depression) had led to his decision to retire
  • Since the 2009-10 season, CollegeInsider has given the Lute Olson Award to the best non-freshman player in D-I men’s basketball
  • Hospitalized in 2019 after suffering another stroke; passed away in August 2020 at the age of 85
  • Along with his late wife, Bobbi, has five children

Lute Olson Coaching Tree

 

^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I level only

** Listed accomplishments for this coach do not include wins or appearances later vacated by the NCAA

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