Distinguished Speaker Series
UA Men's Basketball Coach
November 20, 2006
About Lute Olson
As Lute Olson enters his 24th season at The University of Arizona, he has established both the Wildcat basketball program and himself as two of the preeminent figures on the collegiate basketball landscape.
Olson, now in his fourth decade as a head coach, also has a title that befits those monumental accomplishments — Hall of Famer — as he was enducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. In a career full of individual and team accolades, this honor ranks among the best.
Long considered one of the top coaches in Pac-10 history, he has led Arizona to 11 league titles, the latest in 2005. His 316 conference victories are the most in league history. Olson is the No. 2 coach in Pac-10 history for career winning percentage for conference games with more than two years experience, trailing only the legendary John Wooden.
Olson became the 16th coach in basketball history (covering all levels) to register 1,000 career wins, when his Wildcats defeated Utah, 67-62, on Dec. 11, 2004.
In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 52 NBA draft picks, including 31 at Arizona. Last year, there were 10 Arizona alums on NBA rosters, and Olson has had 13 former players appear in the NBA finals in the last 11 seasons.
He was born on a farm just outside Mayville, N.D., on Sept. 22, 1934, and went on to attend high school in Grand Forks, N.D., for the 1951-52 season, where he led the team to the 1952 state basketball championship.
In college, Olson was a three-sport athlete (basketball, football, and baseball) at Augsburg (Minn.) College from 1953-56. As a senior in 1956, he was recognized with the Augsburg Honors Athlete Award, which is given annually to the top male student-athlete. Since that time he also has been honored by his alma mater with induction into the Augsburg Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977 and received the Augsburg College Distinguished Alumni Award in April 1986.
Olson's new autobiography, Lute!: The Seasons of My Life, tells the story of his more than forty years in basketball.