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Viejas Arena during an SDSU men's basketball game (Credit: Mpu Dinani) Viejas Arena during an SDSU men's basketball game (Credit: Mpu Dinani)

The Lure of SDSU Athletics

For Dan and Bobbie Plough, returning to the campus for a hoops game was like coming home.
By Jeff Ristine

“They understand that San Diego’s future depends on SDSU’s ability to educate and serve the community with the help of our donors.”

This story appears in the fall 2018 issue of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University. 

With two San Diego State University degrees apiece, Dan and Bobbie Plough already were committed Aztecs before their son’s encounter with one of the most hailed figures in SDSU sports history kicked it all up a notch. The Ramona couple already felt tied to SDSU for their successful careers in education, both rising from the classroom to public school administration. 

One day Tim, a point guard for the freshman boys’ basketball team at Ramona High School, was at a preseason camp when Steve Fisher, then head coach of SDSU men’s basketball, paid a visit. Tim came home “just beaming about meeting Mr. Fisher,” said Dan Plough (’75, ’80). They decided to attend a game, were immediately hooked, and have been season ticket holders for the past 18 years. 

Coming back to campus for basketball made the Ploughs realize how much they missed SDSU. “We both said we’re sorry we didn’t do this earlier,” said Bobbie Plough (’76, ’91, ’11), who also returned for a doctoral degree in education. “It’s like being home.” They have become generous donors as a result, with consistent gifts to the athletics program and the College of Education. 

“Dan and Bobbie are the quintessential SDSU alumni—loyal, generous and committed to the university,” said Y. Barry Chung, dean of the College of Education. “They understand that San Diego’s future depends on SDSU’s ability to educate and serve the community with the help of our donors.” 

For Dan, SDSU was “the only university that I had in mind” after graduating from tiny Mountain Empire High School in Pine Valley. For Bobbie, it was an abrupt change of plans—a departure from the disappointing lack of diversity at a private university in the Pacific Northwest. 

Although they attended SDSU together as undergraduates, the Ploughs met off-campus at La Mesa’s Grossmont High as supervision aides—“narcs,” as they freely admit. 

After graduating, “I felt confident in my ability to go into the classroom and be an effective teacher,” said Bobbie, whose career path took her from middle and high schools to administrative positions in K-12 education and superintendent jobs in Riverside, Sacramento and Santa Clara counties. 

Dan, a math teacher after SDSU, went on to administrative positions in the Warner Unified School District, Grossmont Union High School District and Calexico, also serving on the Ramona Unified School District board for seven years. Both are retired from positions at CSU East Bay. 

He joined the Aztec Mentor Program, which connects juniors, seniors and graduate students with alumni who share their expertise and strengthen the students’ career development. It’s not just a one-to-one benefit, Dan noted. “To me, there is a true connection between San Diego State and San Diego County.” Bobbie plans to become a mentor as well. 

The Ploughs’ gifts to the university have been made with no specifications as to how they should be used, even in the College of Education. “We do it because we want to make sure that the program does the best that it can,” said Dan.