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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Russ Pennell named interim coach

    Jim Livengood, left, and Russ Pennell address the media Friday in McKale Center. Pennell will serve as the Arizona mens basketball teams interim head coach.
    Jim Livengood, left, and Russ Pennell address the media Friday in McKale Center. Pennell will serve as the Arizona men’s basketball team’s interim head coach.

    Arizona athletics director Jim Livengood named Russ Pennell the UA men’s basketball interim head coach Friday afternoon, replacing recently retired coach Lute Olson.

    Mike Dunlap will continue in his role as the team’s associate head coach and Reggie Geary will continue to serve as an assistant coach, Livengood said.

    “”At this time, there are no further coaching additions planned,”” Livengood said, though he later added that the next step is to start a process toward a national search for a new, permanent head coach.

    “”I’m not ready to do that right now for several reasons,”” Livengood said of the national search. “”One, I want the focus to be on our team and on our players right now. Secondly, we have a great – not a good, but a great – Homecoming weekend that started this morning. And for many, it started earlier this week.””

    Pennell, 47, said he was approached about the position Friday morning when he got to McKale Center. After he “”swallowed really hard,”” he accepted the position.

    “”Obviously when I woke up this morning, I didn’t expect to be sitting if front of you,”” Pennell told the assembled media in McKale Center on Friday. “”But with great honor, I’m excited about being the interim head coach her at the University of Arizona. The proud tradition of this program is unparalleled throughout the country.

    “”When you look at what coach Lute Olson has done here over the past 25 years,”” Pennell added, “”it is astounding when you put it up next to other programs in America.””

    Pennell joined the UA coaching staff on May 5 and was to be paid an annual salary of $150,000. Livengood said they had not discussed a raise for Pennell but added that he “”will be treated fairly.””

    Pennell joined the program on May 5 after spending two seasons running the Arizona Premier Basketball League, a Phoenix-based AAU team.

    Previously, Pennell worked as an assistant coach at ASU and Mississippi

    Hill decommits

    The Wildcats lost another verbal commitment from a recruit in the wake of Olson’s retirement, according to

    Six-foot-6, 195-pound small forward Solomon Hill retracted his pledge to the program Friday. Mike Moser retracted his oral promise from the Wildcats Thursday.

    Livengood said he’s seeing the glass as half full and that the losing the recruits won’t make the coaching staff back down when it comes to recruiting.

    “”In this particular situation, I’m not willing to give up,”” Livengood said. “”I don’t think Russ is, and I don’t think Mike (Dunlap) is, and I don’t think Reggie is.””

    Read more coverage about the future of the Arizona men’s basketball program in Monday’s print edition of the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

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