SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – The Basketball Hall of Fame Family celebrates the life and mourns the passing of collegiate coaching great Lute Olson. Robert “Lute” Olson, enshrined as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, has passed away at the age of 85.
“With Iowa and Arizona, Lute showcased his incredible ability to cultivate a winning culture and his more than 700 victories ranks him among college basketball’s all-time best.,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “As a Division I coach for 35 years, he developed numerous NBA prospects and an impressive coaching tree. He will be greatly missed by the basketball community.”
Olson’s quiet demeanor on the bench qualified him as a throwback to basketball’s early coaches, but his brilliance as a recruiter, tactician, and builder of programs enabled him to excel like few others in the modern collegiate game. Following successful stints at Long Beach State and the University of Iowa – where he guided the Hawkeyes to five consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and the 1980 Final Four – Olson transformed Arizona into a national power and brought new prominence to West Coast basketball. Olson made the Wildcats a fixture in the national championship hunt each season, guiding his teams to Final Four appearances in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. In 1997, Arizona won the national championship becoming the first team to beat three number one seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Olson also delivered players to the next level in amazing numbers, lending credence to his ability to develop talent.
About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was born, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and celebrating the game of basketball at every level – men and women, amateur and professional players, coaches and contributors, both domestically and internationally. The Hall of Fame museum is home to more than 400 inductees and over 40,000 square feet of basketball history. Nearly 200,000 people visit the Hall of Fame museum each year to learn about the game, experience the interactive exhibits and test their skills on the Jerry Colangelo "Court of Dreams." Best known for its annual marquee Enshrinement Ceremony honoring the game’s elite, the Hall of Fame also operates over 70 high school and collegiate competitions annually throughout the country and abroad. For more information on the Basketball Hall of Fame organization, its museum and events, visit www.hoophall.com, follow @hoophall or call 1-877-4HOOPLA.