Russ Pennell, son of former Lamar High School boys basketball coach Dewey Pennell, has been named interim basketball coach at the University of Arizona, replacing the legendary Lute Olson, who is retiring:
UA athletic director Jim Livengood stated Thursday that the school will soon begin a national search for a permanent replacement, but Pennell will take over in the meantime.
"Russ is a veteran assistant coach with a wealth of coaching experience," said Livengood. "His experience of working in three of the best basketball conferences in the nation will serve us well."
Pennell, 47, returned to college basketball when he joined the Arizona coaching staff in May 2008 after spending the last two seasons running a basketball league in the Phoenix area. His most recent coaching position was as an assistant for Arizona State from 1998-2006.
While working for the Sun Devils under coach Rob Evans, the program amassed a 119-120 record that included an NCAA Tournament berth in 2003 and three trips to the N.I.T.
"This is an exciting opportunity for me," said Pennell. "I look forward to the challenge of leading this program. As the son of a former coach and one who has spent his life around the game of basketball, I'm humbled to get a chance to lead such a storied program."