UA renames McKale Center's hardwood Lute Olson Court
The court at McKale Center will be named in honor of UA basketball head coach Lute Olson, UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood announced yesterday.
A ceremony will be held following tomorrow's Arizona-Arizona State game to officially dedicate the Lute Olson Court. In attendance will be UA President Peter Likins and NCAA President and former UA Athletic Director Cedric Dempsey, among other UA officials.
"I think his preference would have been to wait," Livengood said. "I think too often in life, we wait for things, and that doesn't really make sense."
Livengood said he was met with nothing but support when he mentioned the idea to honor Olson this way a year-and-a-half ago. Olson, whose contract runs through the end of the 2001-02 season, was honored by the gesture.
"Jim had brought this up to me, I guess about a month or so ago," Olson said. "My first reaction was if this was going to be done, I would feel more comfortable having it done after I was coaching rather than at this time. He's the boss, and he said, 'No, that's not an option'."
Olson is 418-124 at Arizona and 610-216 in his 27-year head coaching career. Both his 600th career victory and 400th victory at Arizona came this season.
Livengood said honoring Olson, now in his 17th year at the UA, is one of the highlights of being an athletic director.
"It is, in my opinion, something that is extremely important," Livengood said. "There's no question that it's the right thing to do, I think the timing is excellent. I've never been involved in anything - victory, defeat, excitement, anything - that gives me greater pleasure than what's going to happen Saturday afternoon at about four o'clock."
It has been an exhausting week off for Olson as he prepares his team for a crucial game against the Sun Devils. Olson was away on a recruiting trip and came home to learn junior center Loren Woods is doubtful for tomorrow's game against ASU with back problems.
Olson added that it will be strange walking on a court named in his honor while he's still coaching.
"It certainly is a great honor, a very much appreciated gesture on part of university and athletic department, so I feel very honored to be in this situation, very honored to have been involved in this program for as long as I have," Olson said.
Livengood will be away on business during the team's final homestand against Stanford and California next month, so he decided to have the presentation this weekend, when he was in town.
Until the summer, when Olson's name will be permanently painted onto the court, a sticker will be placed in a spot that will be revealed tomorrow.
"Certainly, what he and (Olson's wife) Bobbi have meant not only to the university, but to the city of Tucson, but also the state of Arizona, the best thing, the best way, this university and this athletic department can honor this great, great family is by what we're going to do on Saturday," Livengood said.