TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Following Lute Olson’s retirement from coaching the UofA basketball program for 25 years, he became an ambassador for the University Foundation.
“We took him to Boston, Denver, San Francisco, Chicago and he loved being at those events,” said foundation President and CEO John-Paul Roczniak. “Even as he got older he loved being an ambassador for the UofA.”
And when Olson showed up at those events, regardless of the city, he lit up the room because everyone knew he was Coach Olson.
“It just made the event special to have Lute there,” he said.
It’s been widely reported that Lute had a special bond with his players cemented with love and respect.
But what’s not so widely known, he showed that respect to other students as well.
“He raised a scholarship or a support group program,” Roczniak said. “I mean Lute gave back, that’s who he was.”
During retirement Olson continued to host his charity golf tournament which raised millions of dollars over the years, hosted and participated in the UofA Cancer Center walk, which was organized after his beloved wife of 47 years, Bobbi, died of ovarian cancer and of course he traveled the country touting the university and Tucson.
“We’re losing an icon,” he said. “Somebody who gave all of himself to the community.”