SAN DIEGO — Steve Fisher is retiring from a basketball coaching career that includes a national championship at Michigan, directing the Fab Five and then turning San Diego State from a laughingstock into a West Coast power.
Two people with knowledge of the situation said Monday that Fisher, 72, is retiring after 18 seasons at SDSU.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Fisher’s decision hasn’t been announced by the school.
The school scheduled a news conference for Tuesday.
“I’m really stunned that he retired because he had a lot of good years left,” said Chris Webber, who played under Fisher with the Wolverines. “I am happy, though, for him and his wife. He’s a great man.”
Fisher didn’t return a call seeking comment. He had one year remaining on a three-year contract extension he signed in November 2014.
SDSU has been prepared for Fisher’s retirement for several years. It designated his long-time assistant, Brian Dutcher, as the head coach in waiting in 2011, when Fisher signed a contract extension. Since then, Fisher and his wife, Angie, have talked after every season about his future.
Fisher apparently feels it’s time to retire, the two people said.
Fisher, Dutcher and athletic director John David Wicker are scheduled to be at the news conference Tuesday. Fisher’s son, Mark, is expected to remain with the program.
Fisher is stepping down after a disappointing season. The Aztecs finished 19-14 and failed to make a postseason tournament or win 20 games for the first time in 12 seasons. SDSU made a school-record six straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament from 2010-15, including reaching its first two Sweet 16s. The Aztecs reached the NIT semifinals in 2016.
Fisher was 386-209 at SDSU.
While his revival of SDSU’s program was remarkable, Fisher will probably be best remembered as the “Michigan Man” who led the Wolverines to the 1989 national title and later coached the Fab Five.
After Bill Frieder accepted the Arizona State job on the eve of the 1989 NCAA Tournament, Michigan athletic director Bo Schembechler angrily decreed that “a Michigan man will coach Michigan, not an Arizona State man.”
Fisher was promoted to replace Frieder and coached the Wolverines to the title. The Fab Five would follow, as would two more appearances in the title game and then Fisher’s firing in October 1997 because of the program’s involvement with booster Ed Martin. Michigan vacated its participation in the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours.
The Aztecs hired Fisher in March 1999. SDSU was a hoops backwater that had just finished 4-22 and posted just one winning season in a decade and a half.
Until Fisher came along, the Aztecs barely had a hoops legacy. They had played in the NCAA Tournament only three times. Among the few well-known alums were Tony Gwynn and Michael Cage. Gwynn, a two-sport star who went on to become a baseball Hall of Famer with the Padres, still holds SDSU’s game, season and career assist records.
The newly hired Fisher would walk around campus giving tickets to students.
He eventually built the program to the point that the Aztecs’ loud, sold-out arena provided a terrific home-court advantage.
SDSU made eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament and five in the NIT under Fisher. They won at least 20 games 12 times and their two 30-win seasons culminated in Sweet 16 appearances, including with Kawhi Leonard in 2011.
The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported that Fisher was retiring.