USC assistant football coach Dave Nichol dies at 45

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California assistant football coach Dave Nichol died Friday in McKinney, Texas. He was 45.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Nichol had cancer. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the cause of death wasn’t being publicly disclosed.

USC head coach Lincoln Riley hired Nichol in December as his inside wide receivers coach and associate head coach for offense. Riley announced four days ago that Nichol was leaving the team to focus on an unspecified personal medical matter.

“We are heartbroken and devastated,” Riley said. “Dave was such a tremendous human being and a fantastic football coach. He absolutely loved the game and constantly poured his heart and soul into his teams. He will be dearly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. We, as a program, look forward to playing and coaching for him as we move forward.”

Nichol was the inside receivers coach at Mississippi State for the past two seasons under Mike Leach. Before that, he spent four years at Washington State as a receivers coach under Leach.

“We are stunned by this, and Dave meant a lot to all of us,” Leach said in a statement. “While we are all suffering the pain of this loss, our thoughts and prayers are with Dave’s family, friends, players and coaches during this tough time. Dave was family to us, and he was loved by all who knew him. Always a smile on his face, Dave had such a positive personality, attitude and energy. He made everyone around him a better person and impacted everyone he met with kindness, loyalty and friendship.”

Nichol also made coaching stops at East Carolina, Arizona and Baylor. He was a receiver at Texas Tech during his collegiate playing career.

Riley and Nichol both started their coaching careers as assistants to Leach at Texas Tech nearly 20 years ago. Riley was hired by the Trojans in late November.

Nichol is survived by his father, Robert Nichol Sr., and brothers Robert Jr. and Jimmy. Memorial service arrangements are pending.

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