[UPDATED] It's Official: Goodbye Lute Olson

There is a story up on the Rivals site that asks says:

Is Lute Retiring? Lute Olson Stepping Down

Word is that Dick Vitale talked about the story on ESPN this morning.

In addition, a usually impeccable source within the UCLA basketball community has confirmed to Bruins Nation that, in fact, Hall of Fame Arizona Head Basketball Coach Lute Olson is stepping down, most likely tomorrow.

Assistant coach Mike Dunlap, formerly of Metro State in Denver, Colorado will reportedly be the "interim" head coach and the school will conduct a proper, national search for Olson's replacement (though it is perfectly possible they already have their man in Dunlap.)

~~~

While I've rooted hard against Lute Olson's teams over the years, I've great respect for what he accomplished. Arizona was not a basketball powerhouse when he went there, but he turned them into one. At their peak, Arizona teams played exciting, uptempo basketball. Olson also deserves respect as a top recruiter with an eye for talent.

More than anything else, it is sort of sad to see him go out the way he is now. Try and find his most recent press appearances on an Arizona site or YouTube. He's become practically incoherent and appears to be in poor health.

I'll personally prefer to remember him as a fiery, rival coach, prowling the sidelines for some really great UCLA-Arizona match-ups.

~~~

One recruiting note:

Arizona has a commitment from top prep point guard Abdul Gaddy. Gaddy chose Arizona over UCLA. You can expect UCLA coaches to get in touch with Gaddy to gauge how the Olson retirement will impact him.

Gaddy, in case you didn' t know, is young for his class and will be a two year college player at minimum, as he won't be old enough to declare for the draft after his freshman season.

UPDATE (A): ESPN now has this story.

There are also reports on the Scout network that Abdul Gaddy is telling people that the Olson retirement does affect his recruitment.

UPDATE II (A):

Fox has the story now, thought keep in mind, Arizona sources in some of these links are still denying it.

UPDATE III (A): The Arizona Daily Wildcat has a story up now that includes a denial of the Olson retirement story. It says:

ESPN.com reported that sources told Dick Vitale of the would-be retirement, but UA sports information director Tom Duddleston said the news is not true.

"Dick Vitale is wrong right now," Duddleston said in a phone interview with the Daily Wildcat.

When asked if there is any indication that any of the reports may be true, Duddleston said no.

If more news emerges, we'll keep updating the story.

UPDATE IV (N): The Arizona Daily Star has a story up "confirming" that  Lute is gone:

Lute Olson will step down as head basketball coach of the Arizona Wildcats, according to the fathers of two top UA recruits who said they were informed by the assistant coaches this morning.
Abdul Gaddy, Sr., father of Top 10 point guard Abdul Gaddy, said Olson’s impending departure was confirmed by assistants Reggie Geary and Mike Dunlap. Meanwhile, Solomon Crawford, father of forward Solomon Hill, said Geary told him the news this morning.
"He just told me it was official — that Lute was out, that (associate head coach Mike) Dunlap was interim," Crawford said.

It also includes the following note re. Gaddy and UCLA (confirming what A wrote above):

“We’re wondering what’s next,” Gaddy Sr. said. “I know my son is concerned now. I told him that after school, we would come down and decide as a family what to do.”
Gaddy Sr. said his son is “definitely not happy with what’s going on at the university” and would probably re-open his recruitment. He said he has already heard from several schools interested in re-recruiting his son, including Washington, Memphis and UCLA.

Keep in mind before committing to Zona, UCLA was one of his two finalists. Bruin coaches had been recruiting him hard (following his intial decommit from Zona earlier in the year IIRC). So they have an advantage in terms of build in relationships. This also will make recruiting options interesting for Inland Empire guard Michael Snaer, who will have to keep an eye on Gaddy, in terms of the last available scholie (as of right now) from UCLA in this year's class. If Snaer or Gaddy wants to become Bruins and join with one of the elite programs in the country, they will not have a lot of time (IMHO) to snatch up that last scholarship. GO BRUINS

UPDATE V (N): It's now official. From Arizona's official site:

Lute Olson announced today that he will retire as head coach of The University of Arizona men's basketball team, effective immediately.

UA Athletics Director Jim Livengood announced that a national search will begin soon to find a permanent replacement.

Rest of the press release is here. Good luck to Lute.

GO BRUINS.

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