Lute Olson, who served as the men's basketball coach at Arizona from 1983 to 2007 and led the program to its lone national championship, has passed away, according to Stadium's Jeff Goodman. He was 85 years old.
Olson had been in "a fight for his life" since Tuesday, according to Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star. KVOA reported that Olson was in hospice care. Olson had suffered a stroke in February 2019, though his cause of death has not yet been reported.
Several former players came to see Olson at the hospital, according to the Star's report, including Salim Stoudamire, Matt Muehlebach, Bennett Davison, Joe Turner, Kyle Fogg, Craig McMillan, Ben Davis, A.J. Bramlett, Corey Williams, Donnell Harris, Pete Williams and Reggie Geary.
Olson was Arizona's head coach for 24 seasons, arriving in 1983 to help jump start a program that had made the NCAA tournament only three times prior. He led the Wildcats to their first-ever Final Four in 1988 and again in 1993 before breaking through to win the national title in 1997. All four Final Four appearances for Arizona have come under Olson's leadership.
The 1997 team won the title as a No. 4 seed, knocking off the tournament's top overall seed Kansas in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats defeated No. 1 seed North Carolina in the national semifinal before topping Kentucky in the championship game, 84-79 in overtime.
Olson grew up in North Dakota and began his coaching career at the high school level in Minnesota. He continued coaching high school basketball after moving to Southern California, then cracked the junior college ranks at Long Beach City College.
Olson's first year as a Division I coach was in 1973, when he took the job at Long Beach State. He left after one year for Iowa, where he coached for nine seasons and led the Hawkeyes to five straight NCAA tournament appearances, including a Final Four run in 1980.
Arizona made the NCAA tournament 23 consecutive seasons under Olson. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and re-inducted in 2019.