Television staff

Aztecs add former USD head coach to basketball staff

Days after being fired as head coach by the USD last March, Sam Scholl was a visitor to San Diego State basketball practice.

Looks like he will be a regular presence around the program.

Coach Brian Dutcher didn’t have an assistant coaching opening, but he created a ‘basketball performance advisor’ position for the 2022-23 season in which Scholl cannot ‘coach’ players on the pitch during training, but can provide feedback and analysis.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this team,” Scholl said in the SDSU statement. “I have known Coach Dutcher for over 20 years and have so much respect for what he and Coach Fisher have built with this program. To now be part of this basketball family, its tradition, and working with these coaches and players, is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Scholl was a contender for assistant coaching positions across the country, but he also owns a home in San Diego and didn’t immediately want to uproot his family. There are also financial considerations, since USD still owes him the last year of his contract minus anything he earns elsewhere. According to the latest available 2020 federal tax returns, Scholl earned $481,280.

SDSU, meanwhile, has been without an administrative assistant for more than a year, and Dutcher used that salary to grab Scholl instead. He will receive $37,440 plus benefits for the 2022-23 season, then likely pursue official coaching work elsewhere once USD no longer pays him.

“He’s going to help in the office,” Dutcher said. “He will assess, he will watch the tape, he will help us. It’s like football with quality control coaches, where they analyze attack and defense and make suggestions, but they’re not actually coaching on the pitch. And here’s a guy who’s been a longtime head coach and assistant, and obviously has a lot to offer us.

“The one thing with our staff is that no one is afraid to offer ideas. We come in and talk freely about areas where we think we need to improve. He is another pair of eyes and voices to add value to our program.

Scholl, 44, was a foot guard at USD in the late 1990s and then remained working on Brad Holland’s team until he left for Santa Clara as an assistant in 2007. He is returned to USD in 2015 as an assistant under Lamont Smith, then took over as head coach in 2018.

The Toreros were 21-15 in his first full season and reached the NIT but could not replicate that success, failing to record another winning season. Athletic director Bill McGillis fired him in March after a 15-16 season and replaced him with television commentator Steve Lavin.

Dutcher has known Scholl since they were both assistants in town in 2000. Aztec assistant Dave Velasquez is one of Scholl’s closest friends.

They invited Scholl to practices in March. This turned into discussions about how he could help in an official capacity.

“We decided he could fill a void for us,” Dutcher said. “And I really love Sam. He’s here because we love him.