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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Succession plan could be close to being unveiled

    Rumored since Kevin O’Neill took the job as assistant coach in May, an official succession plan for him to become the next Arizona’s men’s basketball head coach could be announced soon, according to a Monday night report citing multiple sources close to the situation.

    Reached Monday afternoon, UA athletic director Jim Livengood told the Arizona Daily Wildcat “”there could be”” movement on a succession plan in the future.

    However, he did not make it appear as if anything were imminent by adding, “”There’s nothing that’s changed from yesterday or the day before or the day before.””

    According to the report, the succession plan for O’Neill to take over the program when Lute Olson retires has been agreed on by all parties and will be formally announced before Christmas.

    Although all of Arizona’s committed recruits have praised O’Neill and have said they would honor their commitments, an official announcement like this is thought to help recruiting and show there’s stability in the program.

    Such succession plans have become fairly common around college basketball, as Washington State and Oklahoma State have recently executed them and Texas Tech has plans to do the same, although all of those coaches succeeded their fathers.

    O’Neill took over as interim head coach on Nov. 4 when Olson announced he would take an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons. On Dec. 6, Olson announced he had extended his leave of absence for the rest of the season but would return next year.

    In the meantime, O’Neill has led the Wildcats to a 7-2 record and the nation’s No. 19 ranking after four wins in a row. The team has improved throughout the season, especially on the defensive end, under O’Neill’s guidance.

    Livengood has frequently praised how O’Neill has handled the situation, helping the team improve and stay focused despite the uncertain nature of the coaching situation during the first month of the season.

    “”Kevin has done a great job and has my full confidence and certainly the university’s confidence and the confidence of Lute as well,”” Livengood said the evening Olson announced his leave for the year.

    When O’Neill signed a $375,000 contract in May to be an assistant coach, believed to be the most lucrative assistant contract in the nation, he said he did not have a long-term future.

    “”For me I just try to take this thing one season at a time, see what it brings,”” he said at the time. “”I don’t have any long-term plans. I want to coach for 25 years. That’s the only long-term plan I have.””

    Nine games into the season, those plans could be about to change.

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