|ESPN.com: Dick Vitale||[Print without images]|
It's sad that I have to report a story that troubles me.
I have so much respect and admiration for what Lute Olson has achieved at Arizona. He made four Final Four appearances with the Wildcats, including a national championship victory over Kentucky in 1997 in which Arizona won by beating three No. 1 seeds along the way. He set the school record with 589 victories. Olson's Cats won the Pac-10 title 11 times.
No one has been a bigger supporter of what he has done in Tucson. He is the ultimate Frank Lloyd Wright and has built the program into something very special over the years. Arizona had been in the depths of despair, and he took the school to greatness. There was an excitement in the desert that was so special.
Olson brought in so many quality players, many of whom went on to NBA stardom. Think about the list: Sean Elliott, Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Kerr, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry and on and on.
The past few years have been tough. There have been denials about health issues and personal issues. My insiders, people who I feel are extremely reliable, have told me that Olson will step down imminently as coach of Arizona.
The intent right now is for associate head coach Mike Dunlap, who served as an assistant with the Denver Nuggets the past two seasons, to take over as Arizona's coach on an interim basis, with a national search for the long-term successor proceeding shortly.
It is a story that I'd hoped was wrong, but I feel my sources are impeccable and I will stand by them.
Olson had missed a practice and other speaking engagements, including a rotary club event he had attended for close to 20 years in a row. Those are just two of the indications that he was on the verge of stepping down.
I wish him all the best in the future.