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Longtime Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote dies at 90

10 December 2005: Gonzaga bulldogs athletic director Mike Roth presented Jud Heathcote with as the 2005 recipient of the Comcast Battle in Seattle award for lifetime contribution to basketball in the Pacific Northwest at half time of the third annual battle in Seattle basketball game. Gonzaga defeated Oklahoma State Cowboys 64-62 at Key Arena in Seattle, WA.
Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire

Michigan State announced Monday that former coach Jud Heathcote, who coached Magic Johnson his two years on campus and won a national title in 1979, died at the age of 90 in Spokane, Wash.

“The basketball world is a sadder place today with the passing of Jud Heathcote,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said in a school release. “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 one of the first people call when I had a tough decision in coaching or life.” 

Heathcote spent 19 seasons as Michigan State’s head coach (1976-95), leading the Spartans to nine NCAA Tournament appearances. Izzo took over following Heathcote’s retirement. Heathcote also spent six seasons as head coach at Montana before being hired at Michigan State.

“Coach Heathcote had an impact on so many people,” said Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis. “For me, he was among the best teachers I had the opportunity to be around. Reflecting on my career and life, Jud was one of 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.” 

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