Heathcote Passes Away At 90
Legendary Spartan coach led Michigan State to its first NCAA Championship in 1979.
Michigan State Athletics is sad to announce that Jud Heathcote passed away Monday at the age of 90 in Spokane, Washington.
Michigan State University President Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon
"Jud was an extraordinary individual who laid the foundation for the success of Spartan basketball, and whose strategy and technical skills were sought by people long after he stopped coaching. Behind that sometimes gruff exterior and cutting wit, there was simply a heart of gold in terms of his commitment to making the lives of the people around him better. I appreciated, as well, his notes of encouragement during difficult times. Roy and I will deeply miss him."
Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo
"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."
Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis
"Coach Heathcote had an impact on so many people. 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.
George M. (Jud) Heathcote coached the Michigan State men's basketball team from 1976-95, guiding the Spartans to 340 victories, three Big Ten titles, nine NCAA Tournament berths and one national title during his 19 seasons in East Lansing.
Heathcote is the second-winningest coach in MSU history with a record of 340-220 (.607), including a 14-8 (.636) mark in the NCAA Tournament. His overall record was 420-273 (.606) over 24 seasons, including five years at Montana.
In his third season in East Lansing, Heathcote led Michigan State to its first NCAA men's basketball championship in 1979 and won back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1978 and 1979. During those two seasons, Heathcote had the opportunity to coach one of the game's greatest players, All-American Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who propelled the Spartans to a 51-10 record in his two seasons at MSU.
A two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (1978 and 1986), Heathcote coached seven All-Americans (Johnson, Gregory Kelser, Jay Vincent, Sam Vincent, Scott Skiles, Steve Smith and Shawn Respert) and 22 NBA players. Five of his players won the Big Ten scoring title a total of six times. During Jud's tenure, MSU had at least one player among the first-team All-Big Ten selections in 12 of his 19 years.
Prior to his retirement, Heathcote ensured that the future of Spartan basketball would be in good hands. In 1990, he promoted assistant Tom Izzo to associate head coach, and fought for Izzo to be named his successor.
He was the National Association of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year for the 1989-90 season in which he claimed his third Big Ten championship. He was NABC District 7 Coach of the Year for the 1977-78 season and College Sport Magazine Coach of the Year his last season in 1994-95.
In his five-year stint (1971-76) as head coach of Montana, Heathcote led the Grizzlies to two Big Sky championships and was named Inland Empire Coach of the Year and Big Sky Coach of the Year in 1975. The two conference titles were the first in school history.
He served as an assistant coach of the United States Pan American team in 1975 and 1987.
Jud played varsity basketball and baseball for Washington State and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in September of 1990. Heathcote was also inducted in May 2000 to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2009, he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Heathcote received the 2001 Golden Anniversary Award for 50 years of service to basketball by the NABC at the 2001 Final Four in Minneapolis. Jud was also a Silver Anniversary Award winner in 1976.
The family asks that you respect their privacy in this difficult time.