(Reuters) – Hall of Fame basketball coach Lute Olson, who guided the Arizona Wildcats to their only NCAA championship in 1997, has died aged 85, the university confirmed on Thursday.
Olson was hospitalized in 2019 after suffering a stroke, and was moved into hospice care earlier this year.
A five-time national Coach of the Year, Olson amassed a record of 589-187 in 24 seasons with Arizona. He led the Wildcats to four NCAA Final Four appearances and 15 Pac-10 regular season and tournament titles.
Olson coached 31 players who went on to play in the NBA, including Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
“It’s hard to put into words how much Lute Olson meant to me. He was an amazing coach and a wonderful man,” Kerr wrote on Twitter.
“I will never forget Coach O, those awesome nights at McKale and all my team mates.”
The Wildcats’ court inside McKale Memorial Center was named in Olson’s honor in 2000 and became the ‘Lute and Bobbi Olson Court’ a year later to honor his wife after she passed away.
Olson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)