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Arizona Wildcats to create statue to honor former men's basketball coach Lute Olson

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Posted at 8:29 PM, Aug 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-29 23:29:34-04

Arizona says it will honor former Wildcats basketball coach Lute Olson with a statue on campus.

Athletic director Dave Heeke announced Tuesday that the project will cost about $300,000.

“This is a wonderful honor and I’m grateful to the people at Arizona who made the decision to put up a statue,” Olson said in a statement. “I was fortunate to have a successful career that spanned a number of different locations, but Tucson and the University of Arizona have become my home.

"I’m deeply touched at this recognition and I want to thank all of the staff members, student-athletes and fans, who made, and continue to make, my life at Arizona something special.”

To help pay for the statue's construction, the university said UA alum and current Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has partnered with Original Retro Brand to sell Kerr replica jerseys and t-shirts. Kerr will donate his royalties from the sales of the jerseys and tees to the Lute Olson Statue Fund, and Original Retro Brand CEO Marc Herman will match those donations.

The Kerr t-shirts will be available online at BearDownShop.com, Originalretrobrand.com and UABookstore.com beginning Aug. 31, and the replica jerseys will be available beginning Sept. 20. The tees will also be available at the McKale Center A-Store between Aug. 31 and Sept. 9 and on football game days at merchandise tents. The tees and jerseys will be available at Just Sports locations in Tucson and Phoenix after Oct. 15. 

The statue's construction is scheduled to be completed in March. It will be located at a pavilion outside the north end of the McKale Center basketball arena.

Olson coached Arizona from 1983 to 2008 and compiled a 589-187 record, guiding the Wildcats to the 1997 national championship, four Final Four appearances, 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and 11 Pac-10 titles.

He was Pac-10 Coach of the Year seven times and led Arizona to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons.

Olson, now 82, was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.