Washington, D.C. (March 30, 2023) – The ALS Association celebrates the accomplishment of San Diego State University assistant men’s basketball coach Mark Fisher, who will become the first known person living with ALS to coach in a Final Four. Mark was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 and has been serving as an assistant coach for the Aztecs since 2001.
“Mark is a critical part of this team and we’re all so grateful he’s able to make it to Houston,” said Brian Dutcher, head coach of SDSU. “Aztec Basketball has supported the fight against ALS all season and we will at the Final Four, as well. We all play a role in this fight.”
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that causes a person to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, and eventually breathe. The average lifespan after an ALS diagnosis is 2-5 years.
“I’m happy for Mark and the opportunity he has to make it to Houston,” said Steve Fisher, father of Mark and former head coach at SDSU and the University of Michigan, where he led the Wolverines to the 1998 National Championship. “Living with ALS has its challenges but life is for the living. He’s continued to coach, and we’re excited for all that he has accomplished.”
During the NCAA tournament, the SDSU coaching staff has worn ALS Association lapel pins, as they have all season long. The university and the Mountain West Conference have also shown support for ALS and the ALS Association’s campaign to “make ALS livable until we can cure it.”
“I greatly appreciate the assistance from the ALS Association which allows me to prepare for this weekend, making my travel and transportation to Houston so much easier,” said Mark Fisher, as he helped get the Aztecs ready for their first trip to the Final Four. ALS Association staff in San Diego and Texas are working as “One Team” to help support Fisher.
At the start of the season, the Aztec basketball team participated in the Walk Defeat ALS on October 16, 2022. On December 12, 2022, the Aztecs home game versus Kennesaw State was presented as “Athletes vs. ALS” night. In addition, Aztec players Keshad Johnson and Matt Bradley played for the Athletes vs. ALS team in the San Diego Swish Pro-Am League last summer.
“The support for Mark throughout the San Diego and SDSU communities has been inspiring,” said Steve Becvar, Vice President of Sports & Entertainment at the ALS Association. “His annual ‘Aztecs Fighting ALS’ Walk team is one of the top supported teams. Mark is proving that you keep moving forward and live life to the fullest with ALS. And now he’s coaching a team making a historic run in the NCAA tournament.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Over the course of the disease, people lose the ability to move, to speak, and eventually, to breathe. On average, it takes about a year before a final ALS diagnosis is made. The disease is always fatal, usually within five years of diagnosis. Military veterans are up to twice as likely to develop ALS. There is no cure.
About The ALS Association
The ALS Association is the largest philanthropic funder of ALS research in the world. The Association funds global research collaborations, assists people with ALS and their families through its nationwide network of care and certified clinical care centers, and advocates for better public policies for people with ALS. The ALS Association is working to make ALS a livable disease while urgently searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at http://www.als.org.