USC assistant football coach Dave Nichol died Friday, less than a week after it was announced that he was stepping away from the team to focus on a medical matter. He was 45.
“We are heartbroken and devastated,” head coach Lincoln Riley said in a statement. “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 joined Riley’s first coaching staff at USC in December. He previously coached wide receivers at Mississippi State (2020-21) and Washington State (2016-19) after getting his first shot as an offensive coordinator in his fourth season at East Carolina (2012-15).
Nichol is survived by his father, Robert Nichol Sr., and brothers Robert Nichol Jr. and Jimmy Nichol. No cause of death was announced by the school, but Nichol had cancer, according to multiple reports.
Nichol worked under head coach Mike Leach at Mississippi State and Washington State after getting his start as a student assistant under Leach at Texas Tech. Leach released a statement on Twitter saying that Nichol “passed away from a sudden battle with a number of health issues.”
“We are stunned by this, and Dave meant a lot to all of us,” Leach wrote. “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. He meant a lot to me and countless others, and I will forever be grateful to have had him in my life for the last 22 years.”