Arizona coach denies Parkinson's rumor

Updated: March 2, 2007, 11:15 AM ET
Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona's Lute Olson labeled speculation that he has Parkinson's disease "a vicious, vicious rumor" that is "totally false."

The 72-year-old coach brought up the subject at his weekly news conference on Tuesday.

"I have gotten some calls about rumors and certain radio stations running some things about me having Parkinson's, which is a complete lie," Olson said. "I have physicals like everyone else does. There is absolutely no medical indication of any type of problem."

"I'm healthy. When you get nervous, you start shaking a little. But most people my age do."
-- Arizona coach Lute Olson

A member of the basketball Hall of Fame, Olson has a 779-278 record in 34 years as a college coach, including a 587-186 mark in 24 years at Arizona.

Olson was born on a farm outside Mayville, N.D., and played high school basketball in Grand Forks, where he led his team to a state title.

He said he first heard the Parkinson's rumor a couple of weeks ago, then was asked about it after his weekly radio show on Tuesday.

"There is absolutely no truth to that statement. If it has been repeatedly on radio stations then I will take the necessary actions that I need to get this stopped," he said. "It is a vicious, vicious rumor. If I need to I will get my physician to make a statement. I don't think anybody deserves that rumor to be circulating."

The rumors apparently began when people noticed Olson's hands shake.

"I'm healthy," he told reporters after the news conference. "When you get nervous, you start shaking a little. But most people my age do."

He was concerned about what the rumor would do in the heated competition for high school talent.

"This is the kind of thing you get from people you are recruiting against," Olson said. "If the rumor is going around here, it's certainly going to be passed around."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press