PHOENIX (AP) _ Kevin O'Neill will succeed Lute Olson as Arizona's basketball coach when the Hall of Famer retires.
O'Neill, hired as an assistant last May, has served as the 19th-ranked Wildcats' interim coach since the 73-year-old Olson went on a personal leave of absence Nov. 4 _ a leave he recently extended through the end of the season.
Athletic director Jim Livengood made the announcement Tuesday, ending weeks of speculation that O'Neill would eventually succeed Olson, who has said he plans to return next season.
``Kevin is our coach for now, and will be our coach in the future when Lute decides to retire,'' Livengood said in a statement.
The 50-year-old O'Neill went 152-165 (.475) in 11 seasons as the coach at Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern. Arizona is 7-2 under O'Neill this season.
``It's an unbelievable honor to follow Lute Olson,'' O'Neill said in a statement. ``I'm thrilled to get the opportunity and will work to continue the superb tradition of Arizona basketball when Lute is done.''
Olson is 589-187 (.759) in 24 seasons at Arizona and has led the Wildcats to 23 straight NCAA tournament appearances, the nation's longest active streak. Arizona won the 1997 national title under Olson.