|Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson on leave, facing divorce proceeding|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 07 December 2007 10:48|
A divorce petition was filed in Pima County Superior Court on Thursday, the same day the 73-year-old coach said he would extend his leave from the team through the end of the season, court spokesman Dave Ricker said Friday. It's not clear whether Olson or wife Christine filed for divorce.
Ricker said he has not seen the petition, and legal records supervisor Ray Rivas in the clerk's office says court rules bar public scrutiny of divorce petitions until the filer's spouse has been served or 45 days have passed.
The filing was first reported online by the Tucson Citizen and the Arizona Daily Star.
Olson announced his leave Nov. 4 and said the reasons were personal and not health related.
In a statement released by the university Thursday announcing Olson's leave extension, the Hall of Famer said he plans to return to coach the Wildcats for the 2008-09 season.
``There are personal issues within my family that need to be addressed and I must devote my full energy to that,'' Olson said in the statement.
Gordon James, a public relations executive who has represented the Olsons, had no comment other than to say, ``Mrs. Olson is en route from New York and will be issuing a statement.'' James said her flight was expected to arrive Friday evening.
Athletic director Jim Livengood, in Chicago with the team, said: ``There's no comment from me. It's a personal family matter and should be addressed appropriately.''
The No. 22 Wildcats (5-2) play Illinois on Saturday.
Olson has coached Arizona for 24 seasons and posted a 589-187 record with 23 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. His Wildcats have won 11 Pac-10 championships, reached the Final Four four times and won the 1997 NCAA title.
Assistant Kevin O'Neill, who is serving as interim coach while Olson is gone, said Friday he wants Olson's privacy respected. He said he's doing the best he can to fill in for ``someone who is true greatness.''
``I have great respect and admiration for what our players have done to this point in terms of focusing on basketball only in a very difficult situation - a situation that, really, there's no blueprint for,'' O'Neill said.
Olson and his first wife, Bobbi, were married for 47 years before her 2001 death from ovarian cancer after a 2 1/2-year fight. The couple had five children.
Bobbi Olson Court after her death.
In April 2003, Olson married Christine Jack Toretti - a prominent, politically active Pennsylvania businesswoman who is 22 years his junior.
Toretti, who took Olson's last name after their wedding, remains chief executive of an oil and gas drilling company and sits on several corporate boards. She has three sons from her first marriage.
AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman contributed to this report from Chicago.