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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Should Lute Olson reveal his reasons for his leave of absence?

    Pro: Say what’s going on

    It’s been more than three weeks since Lute Olson took his personal leave of absence, and it’s about time for the Tucson public to start to wonder: When will the truth about Olson reveal itself?

    Olson can’t be accused of covering anything up – he’s entitled to his own personal life and privacy and that should be respected – but his players, coaches and to some extent his fans deserve to know what’s going on.

    In the state of Arizona, Olson lives with the immortals. He is more beloved than almost any coach, athlete or governmental figure, and it’s well deserved.

    The Arizona basketball team is the pride of Tucson, and it has been that way since Olson took over the program in 1983.

    That being said, with all the secrecy involved with his current leave, the situation has turned into something sketchy.

    He’s gone, and nobody knows why.

    Then again, he’s not all gone.

    Olson returned to practice Monday but didn’t coach last night against Cal State-Fullerton. He was expected to hold a press conference Tuesday, but he never showed up. He told players he would be at some of the practices, that his role would be much bigger, but that he wasn’t sure when he would officially return.

    Very confusing. Very shady.

    Let’s not forget … Olson’s leave of absence was announced by a Phoenix public relations firm, not Arizona Athletics. Then someone leaked the information to that Olson was returning to practice, a practice media was not allowed to attend.

    And this is the classy Hall-of-Famer Lute Olson?

    Maybe he doesn’t have to come clean, but he’s leaving his team, coaches, athletic department and, most importantly, a fan base in limbo, raising serious questions about his future with the program.

    It’s also a major distraction to the team. How can it be focused if its head coach is there one day, gone the next?

    At the very least, an estimated timetable for return would make the situation a lot less sketchy. At this point, it may even be better if Kevin O’Neill remains as the head coach so his players aren’t so confused.

    It is Lute Olson’s program, however. So what’s going on?

    Mike Ritter
    assitant sports editor

    Con: Don’t question a legend

    Asking Lute Olson to reveal his reason(s) for temporarily stepping away from his men’s basketball team is pure twaddle.

    Before this season, he missed seven Wildcats games in 24 seasons: six to be with his first wife, Bobbi, as she faded away, and one because of a sore back.

    Seven. Out of more than 1,000.

    Olson’s been coaching the game for half of a century, showing that he’s loyal and dedicated to the sport, his players and his staff – not to mention the whole city of Tucson. He wouldn’t ever leave without a good reason.

    His players and his coaches know this. And they have been very understanding.

    “”I want Lute Olson to do whatever Lute Olson wants to do, and I’ve told him that several times,”” said UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill. “”Whatever he wants to do, that’s what I want him to do. That’s why I came here to work with Lute and for Lute. I want him to do whatever he wants to do and we’ll work it out around him.””

    But people still question his motives.

    Olson, 73, has said that his absence is not health-related, making it more personal and most likely family related. But it really doesn’t matter what the reason is. Let him be. This paparazzi-driven world needs to take its head out of the reality-TV train of thought and realize that there is more to living life than following celebrities so closely that they are scared to stop short.

    Of course we’re all concerned for Olson. We wish him the best and we are anticipating his return. Everyone both locally and nationally is for that matter.

    Though it is a reporter’s dream to break this story and reveal Olson’s secret, his privacy and his legendary status needs to be seriously considered.

    As O’Neill has put it several times, “”Lute Olson is greatness.””

    Never question greatness.

    Lance Madden
    assitant sports editor

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