IOWA CITY – Former University of Iowa basketball standout Kenny Arnold passed away peacefully early Saturday morning. He was 59 years old.
For 30-plus years, Arnold battled a number of health issues, including a brain tumor and several strokes, which limited his mobility and ability to speak.
Arnold played for the Hawkeyes from 1979-82, helping lead Iowa to its third Final Four in 1980 and a Big Ten regular season championship in 1979.
A three-year starter, Arnold played on four NCAA Tournament teams, Iowa’s 1979 Big Ten championship team, and second place finishes in the Big Ten his junior and senior seasons. Arnold averaged 11.7 points and a team-best 3.9 assists his junior campaign, and 10 points and 2.9 assists his senior year. Arnold was a third-team All-Big Ten honoree his senior year. He ranks 37th in Iowa scoring (1,112) and 10th in assists (352).
Arnold was a sophomore for head coach Lute Olson in 1980, was the glue that held the Hawkeyes together during a magical season that was filled with injuries. All-American guard Ronnie Lester suffered multiple knee injuries, as well as injuries to Bob Hansen, Mark Gannon, and assistant coach Tony McAndrews, who suffered injuries after a small plane crash. Arnold, who played with a broken thumb that season, led the team in scoring (13.5 ppg) and assists (4.3 apg).
Arnold was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 96th overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft.
“All of us within the Iowa basketball family are deeply saddened to hear the news of Kenny’s passing,” said Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Arnold family. We lost one of the most inspirational players our program has ever had. Kenny always had a smile on his face and cared most about the happiness of others. His spirit and legacy will not be forgotten.”
In 2017, Iowa introduced the Kenny Arnold Spirit Award at its postseason award ceremony. This annual award is presented to the Hawkeye who exemplifies Arnold’s spirit of leadership, character, courage, determination, and poise.
Funeral arrangements are pending.