College basketball: Steve Fisher retires as San Diego State's winningest coach
SAN DIEGO – Steve Fisher, San Diego State’s all-time winningest coach and the winningest coach in Mountain West history, announced Tuesday that he is retiring as the head basketball coach at SDSU. Fisher, 72, will continue to work at the University in a part-time capacity.
Fisher, who guided the Aztecs to a 386-209 record in 18 seasons, led San Diego State to a Mountain West-record 10 conference titles, eight NCAA tournaments and 13 postseason appearances.
Combined with his previous school, Fisher led his teams to 570 victories, three Final Four appearances, six Sweet 16 appearances (two at San Diego State), including the 1989 national championship. He is a two-time national coach of the year (including 2011 Naismith, NABC and Adolph Rupp honors). He is also the recipient of the prestigious 2015 John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award.
Entering Tuesday, Fisher was the ninth-longest active tenured Division I coach and San Diego State’s streak of 12 consecutive seasons with at least 19 victories is tied for the ninth-longest active streak.
When Fisher arrived at San Diego State prior to the 1999-2000 season, few could have anticipated the metamorphosis the program would soon realize. In the season prior to his arrival, SDSU went 4-22, was 15 years removed from its last NCAA tournament appearance and its average attendance was just 3,136 for 15 home games.
Eighteen seasons later, San Diego State has played in front of 85 straight regular-season home crowds of at least 11,000 fans and once again this season led the state of California in average home attendance.
Prior to Fisher arriving on the scene, San Diego State had never won a Division I postseason game (NCAA or NIT) and had not even advanced to the semifinals of a conference tournament since 1987.
He leaves SDSU having guided the Aztecs to six NCAA tournament victories and eight postseason NIT wins. Additionally, the Aztecs now own the highest winning percentage in Mountain West tournament play (27-14, 65.9 percent) among active members. San Diego State is also the league’s all-time winningest program in conference wins (168).
San Diego State had never been ranked in the top 25 as a Division I program prior to the 2010-11 campaign. Since that time, the Aztecs have been nationally ranked in five of the last seven seasons, spending 66 weeks in the AP Top 25 poll. Since 2011, only 16 schools in the nation have accumulated more weeks in the AP Top 25 than the Aztecs.
Fisher inherited a team that won four games the season before. In three short years, he guided the Aztecs to the 2002 MW championship and NCAA tournament. In 2006, Fisher coached SDSU to the MW regular-season and tournament titles en route to another NCAA appearance. That effort served as a catalyst to a string of 10 straight postseason berths.
In 2010-11, Fisher led San Diego State to the finest season in school history when the MW champion Aztecs won their first-ever NCAA tournament games and advanced to the Sweet 16 before finishing with a 34-3 record. That team ascended to No. 4 in the national rankings. Just three seasons later in 2013-14, SDSU turned in another Sweet-16 performance and posted a mark of 31-5, which included an MW regular-season title and a No. 5 national ranking.
One reason for the program's success has been a remarkable continuity among the assistant coaches and staff. Associate head coach/head coach in waiting Brian Dutcher recently completed his 18th season at San Diego State, serving as Fisher's top assistant for his entire tenure. In 2011, he was named Fisher's successor as the next head coach.
In addition to Dutcher, assistant coaches Justin Hutson (nine seasons as an assistant coach) and David Velasquez (15 seasons with the program and four as an SDSU assistant) are long-time members of the SDSU family. Other tenured staff members include, assistant to the head coach Mark Fisher (15 seasons at SDSU), director of basketball operations Matt Soria (17 seasons with the program, 10th at his current position) and director of player of development Tim Shelton (10 seasons at SDSU and fourth in his current role).