While it was a surprise to see the San Diego Toreros fire head coach Sam Scholl coming off a decent 15-16 season, there was plenty of excitement when they announced their new hire was longtime NCAA head coach and recent west coast broadcaster Steve Lavin.
Lavin won 237 games and made seven NCAA Tournament appearances as the head coach at UCLA from 1996-2003 and again at St. John’s from 2010-2015.
While some questioned hiring an older coach who hasn’t been on the sideline since 2015 – especially when you consider how much college basketball has changed since then – the majority felt this move was a step forward for a San Diego program longing to get back into relevancy in the WCC.
Lavin’s first few moves were big ones, securing a return to the team from point guard Wayne McKinney and adding two huge transfers from the Pac-12 in Jaiden Delaire (Stanford) and Eric Williams (Oregon).
However – any goodwill he earned from college basketball fans and analysts over the past few months may have just been undone after a report surfaced on Tuesday morning from Stadium’s Jeff Goodman that Lavin let holdover assistant coach Martin Bahar go in early July.
College hoops analyst Rocco Miller jumped in to point out that Bahar not only did a huge chunk of recruiting after Lavin was first brought on, he also worked very hard to put together the team’s non-conference schedule.
Effectively, and the other side of the story hasn’t come out yet, it sounds like Lavin kept Bahar on staff to do a lot of the dirty work early in his tenure, and then kicked him to the curb at a time when it’s very difficult to find another job in the industry.
That didn’t go over well on the internet, and reaction on twitter was swift. Rob Dauster of Field of 68 pointed out that Bahar also worked very hard to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for leukemia research, further confirming the callousness of this decision.
After a promising start to his tenure, which looks like it can be attributed in a lot of ways to the hard work Bahar put in, this is going to be a tough hurdle to overcome for Lavin as he embarks upon his third head coaching journey this year.
Host – Locked on Zags Podcast
Writer – Ducks Wire