The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Bob Olson - Inducted 2016

The Aberdeen Central and 1977 Northern State grad helped Northern succeed in athletics for almost 40 years.

He served the Wolves in the role of athletic director for 13 years, taking over the position in 1999 for the retired Jim Kretchman. Prior to that, he coached the NSU men’s basketball team for 14 seasons, winning six conference titles and taking the Wolves to national prominence on both the NAIA and NCAA Division II levels. Olson, who amassed a career record of 305-129, was named the national coach of the year once and the conference coach of year five times. Under his direction, the Wolves made five NAIA national tournament appearances, including runner-up finishes in 1994 and '95. The program’s success at the NAIA level translated seamlessly to the NCAA Division II stage, as the Wolves earned national tournament berths in each of their first four seasons under the NCAA umbrella. Those post-season runs were highlighted by a North Central Region championship and Elite Eight berth in the 1997-98 season.

He coached the NSU women's team to a 44-10 record in two seasons before taking over as men's coach in 1985. He also was an assistant under legendary NSU coach Bob Wachs for the 1977-78 season and again from 1979-1982.

While most known for building a nationally respected basketball program, Olson worked tirelessly for Northern State outside of the coaching realm. He taught in the school’s health and physical education department from 1983-1999 and worked as an admissions counselor from 1979-1981. He also filled the roles of administrative assistant to the athletic director, compliance coordinator and assistant coach for the football and track teams. He also served on the NCAA Championships Committee and oversaw the start of the Barnett Center expansion project, which was completed in 2012. Olson was recognized as the recipient of the Kretchman Coaching Award by the NSU Foundation at the 2011 Gypsy Day celebration.

He was a standout basketball player for the Wolves after a great career at Aberdeen Central. As a four-year player for Wachs, Olson built a reputation as one of the Wolves' best defensive players. He and his teammates compiled a 75-38 four-year record.

He coached the Aberdeen Roncalli boys for two years, going 27-13.


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