April 2, 2009
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, whose Spartans have advanced to the 2009 NCAA Final Four, is the recipient of the Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award, presented annually to a college coach who has been vigorously engaged in the program's fundraising, education and promotional initiatives and has demonstrated leadership in the fight to save lives from cancer.
Coaches vs. Cancer is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) that empowers coaches, their teams and communities to join the fight against cancer.
Izzo will receive the Champion Award at the 2009 NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show on Sunday, April 5 in Detroit - site of this year's Final Four. In the coaching and philanthropic community, Tom and Lupe Izzo are leaders with a bold vision for how Coaches vs. Cancer can make a difference in the fight against cancer. Central to that vision is building a program with broad impact and far-reaching appeal in order to leverage the collective strength and enthusiasm of an entire Spartan nation.
Team Izzo expanded on the annual Suits and Sneakers weekend by adding a pledge-based fundraising component to the awareness campaign- a nationwide event in which coaches wear sneakers with their game attire to raise awareness about the importance nutrition and physical activity play in reducing personal cancer risk. Companies and businesses across the state follow suit by lacing up in the fight against cancer and hosting worksite fundraisers like "Wear Your Sneakers to Work Day."
This spring, Tom and Lupe Izzo will demonstrate their commitment to the cause by stepping away from the court at Breslin Center and into the bright lights of Broadway at the Wharton Center to perform in Izzo Goes To Broadway. This special show blends the skill of athletics with the passion of the arts for an entertaining and inspirational evening. It is a one-night-only show but not a one shot deal for Team Izzo in the fight against cancer.
"The American Cancer Society, in conjunction with the NABC, is pleased to recognize Coach Izzo for his outstanding work with Coaches vs. Cancer. He is a true leader for the Spartans and for the Coaches vs. Cancer team, and he and his wife demonstrate their commitment to the Society's lifesaving work with creativity and dedication every chance they get. Coach Izzo is a wonderful ally as we work together to save lives by helping people stay well, helping people get well, finding cures and fighting back," said Van Velsor Wolf, 2008-09 volunteer chair, American Cancer Society National Board of Directors.
Izzo is concluding his 14th year at the Michigan State helm and his 26th as a member of the Spartan coaching staff, where he has earned four national coach of the year citations. His 2000 MSU team claimed the NCAA crown, and with the '09 Spartans having advanced to the Final Four, this will be Izzo's fifth team to reach college basketball's national championship semifinals.
The Champion Award was instituted in 1996, with former Missouri coach Norm Stewart receiving the inaugural citation. Since that time, the award has honored head coaches Jim Boeheim (Syracuse); Denny Crum (Louisville); Roy Williams (then at Kansas and now at North Carolina); Riley Wallace (Hawaii); Fran Dunphy (then at Pennsylvania and now at Temple); Gary Williams (Maryland); Mark Few (Gonzaga); Mike Brey (Notre Dame); Bruce Weber (Illinois); and Jim Calhoun (Connecticut). Several other national events throughout the year continue to highlight the productive work of Coaches vs. Cancer, including Fight Cancer In Style - an event for coaches' wives during the upcoming Final Four weekend (April 4-6); the Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Invitational, June 7-8 at the Raleigh (N.C.) Country Club; and the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (16-team, nationwide basketball tournament) in November.