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  1. #1
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    Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    Yikes...

    ESPN - Olson, citing personal reasons, won't return this year - Men's College Basketball

    TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson said Thursday night he would extend his leave of absence through the end of this season, citing undisclosed family matters that require his attention.

    In a statement released by the university, the 73-year-old Hall of Famer said he plans to return to coach the Wildcats for the 2008-09 season.

    "There are personal issues within my family that need to be addressed and I must devote my full energy to that," Olson said in the statement.

    Athletic director Jim Livengood said assistant coach Kevin O'Neill will continue to serve as interim coach for the rest of this season. The 22nd-ranked Wildcats (5-2) are at Illinois on Sunday.

    Livengood said the university supports Olson's decision.

    "All of us at the University of Arizona want what is best for Lute and his family," Livengood said. "He has brought immeasurable good to our program and the university and we want him to know that we are supportive and wish him nothing but the best as he tends to these issues."

    Olson requested a leave of absence on Nov. 4, asking the public and media to respect his privacy. He has attended a few practices since then but has said little publicly.

    "After consultation with my famiy, I have decided to extend my leave of absence for the remainder of the current basketball season," Olson said. "I do this with great reluctance because I care greatly about the University of Arizona, the basketball program and the players on this team. But there are personal issues within my family that need to addressed, and I must devote my full energy to that.

    "I plan to return to coach the University of Arizona next year," he said. "In the meantime, my heart will be with the team, the coaches and the staff."

    Olson is 589-187 in 24 seasons at Arizona and 780-280 overall as a college head coach. Until this season, Olson had missed only seven games in 24 seasons with the Wildcats. Six came after the death of his wife Bobbi during the 2000-01 season, and one was against La Salle due to a back injury in 1994.

    "To our basketball fans and the community, I ask for your patience in allowing me the time to attend to my personal situation," Olson said. "I am most grateful for the statements of support and prayers that have been offered and look forward to a return to more normal activities in the months ahead."

    The Wildcats were traveling to Chicago on Thursday night.

    O'Neill, a former Olson assistant, rejoined the Arizona staff last spring to help shore up the defense. The Wildcats upset then-No. 9 Texas A&M on Sunday in McKale Center.

    "Kevin has done an absolutely superb job stepping in for Lute," Livengood said. "We have enormous confidence in his ability to lead the team in Lute's absence."

    The young Wildcats have been improving despite the attention swirling around the program since Olson stepped away. Arizona is trying to extend its string of 23 straight NCAA tournament appearances, the nation's longest active streak, and win 20 games for the 21st straight season.

    "I have spoken to the team and they fully understand Lute's decision," O'Neill said. "It has been a challenge for them to deal with the uncertainty surrounding this. But they have handled it with extraordinary grace and are fully focused on the season ahead."



  2. #2
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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    He actually seems like a very stand-up individual, despite his few seasons in Iowa City. I took in his a****iography, "Lute," last year, and was very impressed. I hope everything blows over and returns to normal for him and his family.



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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    Does he have a son or daughter that may need help re: drugs or something?



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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    Why does Terry Hoepner come to mind when I hear about this?



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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    I'm surprised he hasn't come out with more information just to ease people's minds. I looked at a few of the Arizona boards and they really have no clue what's going on just like everyone else.



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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    Quote Originally Posted by cycloneworld View Post
    I'm surprised he hasn't come out with more information just to ease people's minds. I looked at a few of the Arizona boards and they really have no clue what's going on just like everyone else.
    I agree; maybe he did confide to the University and the team in private. I hope so because that would have been the right thing to do rather than leave them in wonder.

    The man is 73 years old, I know he has a lifetime pass at Arizona, but this seems a little too self-serving to keep the program on hold for a year. To me I always thought, as did some Hawk supporters, that Lute was a little too ego-centered. I've wondered at time if the meteoric rise of Hayden Fry made Lute uncomfortable and hastened his departure for Arizona.

    PS: for the rampant gossip / speculative / message board smack side of things, I heard it from a friend, who heard it from a friend, that maybe it's something to do with his 2nd wife.


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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season


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    This women is trying to take down a whole university.

    Once again a women is trying to ruin something

    TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson, on a leave of absence from his team, is facing a divorce proceeding.

    The divorce petition was filed in Pima County Superior Court on Thursday, the same day the 73-year-old coach said he would extend his leave through the end of the season, court spokesman Dave Ricker said Friday.

    It's not clear whether Olson or wife Christine filed for divorce.

    Ricker said he has not seen the petition, and legal records supervisor Ray Rivas in the clerk's office says court rules bar public scrutiny of divorce petitions until the filer's spouse has been served or 45 days have passed.

    The filing was first reported online by the Tucson Citizen and the Arizona Daily Star.

    Olson has cited unspecified personal reasons for taking a leave.

    In a statement released by the university Thursday announcing Olson's leave extension, the Hall of Famer said he plans to return to coach the Wildcats (5-2) for the 2008-09 season.

    "There are personal issues within my family that need to be addressed and I must devote my full energy to that," Olson said in the statement.

    Gordon James, a Phoenix public relations executive who has represented the Olsons, said he could offer no immediate comment.

    "Mrs. Olson is en route from New York and will be issuing a statement," he said.

    James said her flight was expected to arrive Friday evening.

    Olson and his first wife, Bobbi, were married for 47 years before her 2001 death from ovarian cancer after a 2-year fight. The couple had five children.

    She served an active role in Olson's basketball program, joining him on recruiting trips and even cooking pancakes for prospective players when they came to visit Tucson. Former players revered her for being so instrumental in creating a family atmosphere.

    The university renamed the basketball court Lute & Bobbi Olson Court after her death.

    In April 2003, Olson married Christine Jack Toretti -- a prominent, politically active Pennsylvania businesswoman who is 22 years his junior.

    Toretti, who took Olson's last name after their wedding, remains chief executive of an oil and gas drilling company and sits on several corporate boards. She has three sons from her first marriage.

    Athletic director Jim Livengood, who was in Chicago with the team, said: "There's no comment from me. It's a personal family matter and should be addressed appropriately."

    The Wildcats (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) are playing Illinois in Chicago on Saturday.

    Olson announced his leave of absence on Nov. 4 and said the reasons were personal and not health-related. He's coached Arizona for 24 seasons and posted a 589-187 record with 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. His Wildcats have won 11 Pac-10 championships, reached the Final Four four times and won the 1997 NCAA title.

    Assistant coach Kevin O'Neill, who is serving as interim coach while Olson is gone, said Friday that he wants Olson's privacy respected and was doing the best he could to fill in for "someone who is true greatness."

    "I have great respect and admiration for what our players have done to this point in terms of focusing on basketball only in a very difficult situation -- a situation that, really, there's no blueprint for," O'Neill said.



  9. #9
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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    Living in Arizona I have to say they've done a good job of keeping the real reason out of the media. Word on the street has it that there's more to this story that just a divorce, but I have no idea what.


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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    hmm.. this all seems so mysterious.

    I wonder how his year lay-off is affecting recruiting.



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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    There recruiting is better than ours. To bad about Negedu, we could have really used him



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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    I've got to wonder why Lute doesn't just retire? He's got his National Championship, his legacy is secure, he's 72........what more can he do?



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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    Quote Originally Posted by 83Clone View Post
    I've got to wonder why Lute doesn't just retire? He's got his National Championship, his legacy is secure, he's 72........what more can he do?
    I was thinking the exact same thing. He is 72 years old with a big enough problem at home that he is going to take a year off. Why in the world wouldn't you just hang it up?

    Maybe we can see a Cybookie event on this, my credits are going towards him not coaching again.



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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    Quote Originally Posted by cycloneworld View Post
    I'm surprised he hasn't come out with more information just to ease people's minds. I looked at a few of the Arizona boards and they really have no clue what's going on just like everyone else.
    Exactly. It's like the more info that he and the school release, the more confusing and unclear the situation becomes. It certainly does invite speculation...


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    Re: Lute Olson: Leave of Absence for full season

    Quote Originally Posted by 83Clone View Post
    I've got to wonder why Lute doesn't just retire? He's got his National Championship, his legacy is secure, he's 72........what more can he do?
    Perhaps he enjoys the challenge and prefers the rigors of coaching over the rocking chair?



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