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Former MSU Basketball Coach Jud Heathcote Passes Away

Duane Burleson - AllSport
Duane Burleson – AllSport

Former Michigan State Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jud Heathcote passed away at his home in Spokane, Washington on Monday night at the age of 90, according to the school.

Heathcote is best known for leading the 1979 MSU team to the NCAA Championship with Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Gregory Kelser leading the way past Larry Bird and Indiana State.  Jud won three Big Ten championships during his 19 seasons at MSU.

MSU’s current head basketball coach Tom Izzo was Heathcote’s hand-picked successor. He issued a statement through the university late Monday night remembering his mentor:

The basketball world is a sadder place today with the passing of Jud Heathcote. No one cared more about the welfare of the game than Jud. He was a coach’s coach and a mentor to many. Our hearts are filled with sadness and deepest sympathy for his wife Beverly and the Heathcote family.

Without a doubt, he was one of the most influential people in my life, giving me a chance when no one else would. 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 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.

After retiring from MSU in 1995, Heathcote moved from East Lansing to Spokane, Washington, where was a prominent figure at Gonzaga University men’s basketball games during his retirement.

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