Last night Michigan State announced that Jud Heathcote passed away. The former Spartans head coach was 90 years old.
Heathcote coached the Spartans from 1976 until 1995, when current head coach Tom Izzo took over in East Lansing. Heathcote led the Spartans to a national title in 1979 and won 336 games while at Michigan State. During his tenure in East Lansing he coached the Spartans to three Big Ten titles and nine NCAA Tournament appearances.
Also of note, Heathcote hired Tom Izzo as an assistant in the 80s and promoted him to take over the head coaching position when he retired in 1995. Saying Heathcote had a very large influence on the current Spartans head coach would be an understatement.
“Without a doubt, he was one of the most influential people in my life, giving me a chance when no one else would,” mentioned Izzo. “Any coaching success I’ve ever had is because of him. Long after he left Michigan State, he was still one of the first people I would call when I had a tough decision to make in coaching or life... Michigan State has lost one of its icons today. And yet, nothing can erase his impact on the program, the players he coached and the coaches he mentored. Spartan basketball is what it is today because of Jud Heathcote.”
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, a former student manager under Heathcote, also commented on the passing of the former head coach.
“For me, he was among the best teachers I had the opportunity to be around. Reflecting on my career and life, Jud was among the most influential people in regards to my preparation for both. He will be missed, yet his memory will be seen through the many different people he impacted. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Bev and the entire Heathcote family.”