O'Neill named interim coach

On the heels of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson asking for a leave of absence to deal with "personal matters", Kevin O'Neill was named interim head coach of the Arizona basketball program. Both O'Neil and athletic director Jim Livengood insisted that this was only a temporary.

"He's going to be back," stressed Livengood.

"He is the head coach, this will be his 25th year and next year will be his 26th year," .said O'Neill.

Livengood said that Olson and his wife Christine attended the UA football game against UCLA with him and that at the conclusion of the game Olson spoke with Livengood and asked to take the time off.

"Lute asked for a leave of absence after yesterday's football game," said Livengood. "Every intention is that he will be back. We will do whatever is in the best interested of Lute and Christine."

Both Livengood and O'Neill stressed that they hoped the public and media would respect the privacy. Livengood was asked to confirm that the leave of absence was not health related and he confirmed the earlier reports. He also noted that Olson seemed to be in good spirits during their conversation after the game.

"Let's not deal in speculation," said O'Neill.

O'Neill has been a head coach on the college and pro level, which should make the transition easier.

"If there was ever a time to coerce Kevin back to Arizona, this was it," Livengood said. Both men repeated that Olson had no set timetable for a return, but that he is expected back very soon. In fact no further changes will be made to staff responsibilities because of the expectation that he will be back soon. O'Neill really stressed that he was just filling in temporarily.

"I am an assistant coach who will coach the team until Lute comes back," O'Neill said. "We deserve every bit of Lute that we can get."


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