Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Hall of Fame basketball coach Lute Olson, who spent 24 seasons at the University of Arizona and led the Wildcats to the 1997 NCAA championship, has died at the age of 85.
The university said Olson died Thursday. He suffered a stroke in 2019 and has since had health issues, but the cause of death was not given.
"Since I arrived in Tucson, Ariz., almost 12 years ago, I have been asked hundreds of times 'What made coach Olson so successful?' Having asked his former players, coaches and people in our community the same question, I came to a final conclusion: He had no weaknesses as a coach," Arizona men's basketball coach Sean Miller said in a statement.
Olson's 776 wins rank No. 12 all-time in men's college basketball history.
The five-time National Coach of the Year began his collegiate head coaching career in 1973 at Cal State Long Beach. He went 24-2 in his first season and later went on to post a 165-93 record in nine seasons at Iowa before he was hired at Arizona before the 1983 season.
Olson led the Wildcats to a 587-190 record from 1983 to 2006 and the NCAA tournament in 23 of his 24 seasons at the school. His teams appeared in four Final Fours, including the 1997 championship game over Kentucky. During the surprise championship run, the No. 4-seeded Wildcats defeated No. 1 seeds Kansas and North Carolina before they beat Kentucky, another top seed, for the title. It remains the Pac 12 Conference's last NCAA title in men's basketball.
Olson also led Team USA to a gold medal at the 1986 FIBA World Championships and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. The floor at the Wildcats' McKale Center in Tucson is named in his honor.
"Being part of the [Arizona] basketball family changed my life forever. I will never forget 'Coach O,' those awesome nights at McKale and all my teammates. Thank you coach. I love you!"
Olson is survived by his wife, Kelly, daughters Vicki, Jody and Christi, sons Greg and Steve and 14 grandchildren.