12.07.07

Olson’s Sabbatical To Last At Least An Entire Season

Posted in Basketball at 2:59 am by

Have we seen the last of Lute Olson as head coach of Arizona? The Republic’s Steve Rivera isn’t saying, but I wouldn’t bet on Olson returning at the age of 74, either.

“Lute has indeed requested a leave, and we have granted a leave for the remainder of this season,” UA President Robert Shelton said. “(Athletic Director) Jim Livengood said he got the confirmation.”

“Lute has indeed requested a leave, and we have granted a leave for the remainder of this season,” UA President Robert Shelton said. “(Athletic Director) Jim Livengood said he got the confirmation.”

Kevin O’Neill, who was named interim coach when Olson began his leave on Nov. 4, will lead the Wildcats the rest of the season, Livengood said.

“My heart will be with the team, the coaches and staff,” Olson said in the statement. “Our student-athletes are in great hands, and I wish for them nothing but success with the remainder of the season.

“To our basketball fans and the community, I ask for your patience in allowing me the time to attend to my personal situation.”

O’Neill said he spoke to the team, and “they fully understand Lute’s decision.”

“We have some great student-athletes on the team . . . ” O’Neill added. “It has been a challenge for them to deal with the uncertainty surrounding all this. But they have handled it with extraordinary grace and are fully focused on the season ahead.”

Olson returned to the practice court Nov. 26, sometimes assisting O’Neill on the sideline. At other times he was an observer.

Having sat out the season’s first seven games, it is the longest that Olson has gone without being on the court for one stretch since he began coaching college basketball.

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