EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the hiring of Maria Fantanarosa as an assistant coach on Thursday. Fantanarosa has an extensive women’s basketball background, including being the head coach of Miami (Ohio) from 1998-2013.
“I am grateful to Coach Merchant for the opportunity to join her staff at Michigan State University. Suzy is a nationally regarded coach and teacher of the game. I have always respected her work ethic and integrity, and strongly believe that she is one of the best at developing and graduating champions. I am excited to contribute to the future success of Spartan Basketball,” Fantanarosa said.
At Michigan State, Fantanarosa will be the Spartans’ recruiting coordinator, and she also will work closely with the guards and the Michigan State offense.
“We are thrilled to have Maria join the Spartan family. Maria has been a well-respected and successful head coach in our business for many years. She’s hard working and passionate about teaching and mentoring young women. Her knowledge and experience will be tremendous assets to Michigan State women’s basketball, and we are looking forward to her impact and leadership in her role on our staff,” Merchant said.
Most recently, Fantanarosa has been active in the basketball community, working for Fantanarosa Consulting LLC, which trains basketball players of all ages. She conducted clinics for youth and high school athletes, as well as mentoring coaches. Fantanarosa has also been a color analyst for the American Digital Network.
Fantanarosa was named the seventh head coach at Miami in 1998, becoming the RedHawks’ all-time winningest coach with her 132nd win, an 87-79 victory over IUPUI on Dec. 30, 2006. She was the first Miami women’s basketball coach to reach 200 career wins with an overall record of 237-212. She took the RedHawks to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008, as well as earning the Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament titles. Fantanarosa was also named MAC Coach of the Year in 2008, as well as coaching one MAC Player of the Year in 2002. During her 15 year tenure at Miami, 22 players earned All-MAC honors with 13 being named to the All-MAC academic team.
She was at the helm of Western Carolina in 1997-98, coaching the Catamount’s Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, and she recruited and signed the program’s first conference player of the year.
Prior to Western Carolina, Fantanarosa was the top assistant at South Carolina for three seasons from 1994-97. While with the Gamecocks, she was the position coach for Shannon Johnson, who went on to play 11 seasons in the WNBA and won a gold medal with Team USA in the Olympics at Athens in 2004. Fantanarosa was also the recruiting and scouting coordinator at South Carolina.
Before working at South Carolina, she was an assistant at Xavier from 1990-94, where the Musketeers won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference regular season title in 1991-92 and the conference tournament title one year later.
An offensive force as a player, Fantanarosa is the all-time scoring leader in Pennsylvania girls’ high school history with 3,823 total points.
A native of Kulpmont, Pennsylvania, Fantanarosa earned her bachelor’s degree in speech communication with a minor in coaching science from Miami in 1990. She went on to receive her master’s degree in sports administration from Xavier in 1993. Fantanarosa and her husband Tim Morrow have two daughters, Lauren and Allison.
Fantanarosa replaces former assistant coach Mark Simons, who is retiring from coaching after five seasons on the Spartan bench. Simons had been involved in collegiate men’s and women’s basketball for over 40 years and his contributions to the game have been impactful.