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College Basketball Legend Hospitalized After Stroke, But Recovering

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Legendary college basketball coach Lute Olson suffered a stroke over the weekend and is recovering in a Tucson, Arizona, hospital.

Doctors said it was a minor stroke and that the former Arizona and Iowa coach is in good condition, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

“He is likely to make a full recovery but will likely need some rehabilitation therapy after his discharge from the hospital,” Dr. David Labiner, chairman of the department of neurology at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, said in a statement.

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Olson, 84, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

“Coach Olson is not only an icon of our men’s basketball program and all of college basketball, but he is also an embodiment of greatness to Arizona Athletics, the University of Arizona and the Tucson community,” the UA Athletic Department said in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with Coach Olson, his family and loved ones during this time.”

He is the winningest coach in University of Arizona history. In his 24 years at Arizona from 1983 to 2007, Olson went 589-187.

Olson won 11 Pac-10 championships, made it to the Final Four four times in 1988, 1994, 1997, and 2001. His WIldcats won the NCAA National Championship in 1997.

He took a leave of absence in October 2007 for what he called a “medical condition that is not life-threatening,” the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Olson missed the entire 2007 season and returned to coaching in April 2008. But he had to retire permanently at the start of the 2008 season due to medical issues.

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The Daily Star reported that Olson’s personal physician said he had suffered a small smoke in the previous year. Shortly after Olson’s retirement, according to the Daily Star,  Dr. Steven Knope, said the stroke “resulted in some severe depression, as well as some changes in judgment that, in retrospect, probably didn’t appear for several months.”

Olson is a legend at UA.

The basketball court at the McKale Athletic center is named after Olson and his late wife Bobbi.

In April, the school unveiled a life-sized statue of Olson outside the Jim Click Hall of Champions at the McKale Center.

“I think it’s a great tribute to the players who went through this program, because I didn’t make one basket,” Olson said at the unveiling, according to the Daily Star.

Olson’s coaching career began in 1973 when he coached Long Beach State for one year. In 1974 he moved on to the University of Iowa where he coached for nine seasons.

The last five seasons there he led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament. He led Iowa to the Final Four in 1980.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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