August 28, 2020 / Modified aug 28, 2020 9:45 a.m.

Lute Olson, Hall of Fame coach, Arizona icon, dies at 85

The Wildcats won a national basketball championship under Olson in 1997.

Lute Olson portrait Lute Olson, in 2017.
Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lute Olson, the Hall of Fame coach who turned Arizona into a college basketball powerhouse, has died. He was 85. Olson’s family said he died Thursday evening. The cause of death wasn't given.

Olson spent 24 seasons at Arizona, revitalizing a fan base in the desert while transforming a program that had been to the NCAA Tournament just three times in 79 years before he was hired in 1983. Olson first took the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament during his second season in Tucson to start a string of 25 straight appearances.

The Wildcats won a national championship under Olson in 1997 with a team led by Mike Bibby, Jason Terry and Miles Simon.

For a more, click here.

Learn more about Olson in this episode of Arizona Illustrated, re-aired in 2014.

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