Former Ripon basketball coach helped create March Madness

Former Ripon College basketball coach Harold Olsen, who led Ripon teams to three conference titles, was featured in an article March 18, 2018, in the Leader-Telegram newspaper of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

“Rice Lake native helped create March Madness” details how Olsen, head coach of basketball for 24 years at Ohio State University and a posthumous inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, came up with the idea “to hold a true national championship tournament,” according to Tod Pritchard of the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association.

The same topic was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 21, 2018.

Olsen, who served as chair of the NCAA Basketball Committee at the time, implemented the first tournament in 1939 where his Ohio State team finished second to the University of Oregon.

Before becoming a coach at Ripon in 1918, Olsen was a Helms Foundation First Team All-American at Wisconsin in 1917. President of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, chair of the NCAA Basketball Committee for eight years, and a member of the 1948 Olympic Committee, Olsen helped initiate the 10-second rule in 1937. Olsen later coached the Chicago Stags to the first Basketball Association of America Finals in 1947.


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