Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats behind the mic: Olson influenced numerous future broadcasters between UA, Iowa


The Des Moines (Iowa) Register today published a story written by a former Hawkeye coached by Lute Olson lauding the Hall of Fame coach’s impact on his players to the extent many of them became broadcasters.

Olson will attend tonight’s Iowa State-Iowa game at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where he coached for nine years before making Arizona a national power from 1983-2007.

“Lute’s media legacy extends far beyond his coaching or interviews,” writes Jon Darsee in the Register report. “When you consider the number of his former players who became broadcasters, he is in a class of his own.”

Lute Olson was a recent guest of the Pac-12 Network during an Arizona game and he and former player Matt Muehlebach talked Wildcat hoops (Pac-12 Network screen shot)

Lute Olson looked like a natural like many of his former players when he was a recent guest of the Pac-12 Network during an Arizona game (Pac-12 Network screen shot)

Darsee, a member of Iowa’s Final Four team coached by Olson, mentions four of his teammates became broadcasters. Olson’s former Arizona players currently number six behind the mic (list of all former athletes, coaches and Arizona graduates who are broadcasting is below).

Olson’s Iowa contingent on the air: Kevin Boyle is a long-time Northern Iowa radio analyst, Bobby Hanson has a similar role for Hawkeyes radio, and Steve Carfino became broadcaster of professional basketball in Australia following his career as a player there. Another player, Mark Gannon, was a broadcaster in the 1990’s.

Olson’s Arizona contingent behind the mic:

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Luke Walton tried his hand at broadcasting, like his dad, with Fox Sports 1 very briefly, but he turned to coaching instead. That became a smart career move with him making waves as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach.

Steve Kerr was also a respected NBA commentator for TBS and Final Four broadcaster for CBS before taking the Golden State Warriors coaching position in 2014.

Darsee writes that he “randomly Googled other high-profile coaches overlapping Lute’s Hall of Fame career — guys like Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski. As far as I can tell, only Coach K comes remotely close, producing four broadcasters.”

Darsee went on to write about Tom Tolbert’s comment that Olson attracted players who can think on their feet.

“Not everyone was a McDonald’s All-American out of high school like Sean Elliott,” he told Darsee. “Steve Kerr and I were not highly recruited but we could improvise when a play broke down and that’s a useful skill in broadcasting.”

Overall, 21 former Arizona athletes are broadcasters as well as three former coaches. A total of 12 Arizona alums who were not athletes at the school have advanced to become sports broadcasters. All of the 36 are listed below:



Baseball (3)

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Football (7)
*Also played basketball
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Tedy Bruschi is in his xxth season as an ESPN NFL analyst (ESPN screen shot)

Tedy Bruschi is in his seventh season as an ESPN NFL analyst (ESPN screen shot)

Men’s basketball (6)
**Also played baseball
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Softball (4)
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Swimming (1)
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Arizona graduates Ryan Hansen (left) and Ryan Radtke broadcast the Arizona-Butler game in Las Vegas recently for the Wildcats' IMG Radio Network (Robert Scot/VirlVideo)

Arizona graduates Ryan Hansen (left) and Ryan Radtke broadcast the Arizona-Butler game in Las Vegas recently for the Wildcats’ IMG Radio Network (Robert Scot/VirlVideo)


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FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.


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