The Michigan State family has lost a legend. Late Monday night the school announced that former basketball coach Jud Heathcote passed away at the age of 90 years old.
Heathcote coached the Spartans from 1976-1995, winning 339 games, including the school’s first National Championship in 1979. His teams made nine NCAA Tournament appearances and won three Big Ten titles.
While Heathcote was very successful during his time patrolling the bench, his greatest impact on the program might have been choosing Tom Izzo as his successor. Izzo was able to take the program even higher than Jud did, making it one of the elite college basketball programs in the country. In a statement put out by the MSU basketball program, Izzo had this to say about his mentor:
“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.”
Jud was known for his trademark green jacket and a defensive mindset, something that certainly carried over to his successor. His fiery coaching style was also passed down to coaches he influenced, including Izzo, former player Scott Skiles, and Tom Crean.
Jud’s passing brought reaction from around the college basketball world on twitter…
MSU Athletics is sad to announce that Jud Heathcote passed away Monday at the age of 90. pic.twitter.com/DHPW6aA5q0— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) August 29, 2017
We are all very saddened over the loss of Coach Jud Heathcote. His impact on so many lives is completely immeasurable. #totallythankful— Gregory Kelser (@gkelser32) August 29, 2017
We lost a great guy. RIP Jud Heathcoat. Michigan State became the power house that it is because of you. #SpartanFamily— Delvon Roe (@DelvonRoe10) August 29, 2017
Just heard of the passing of Michigan State's Jud Heathcote, a coaching icon. A man of gruffness, toughness & a terrific sense of humor. RIP— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) August 29, 2017
R.I.P to the legendary Coach Heathcote— Miles Bridges (@MilesBridges01) August 29, 2017
Surely there will be many more tributes and stories over the coming days. I expect MSU to honor Heathcote somehow during the basketball season and anyone going to Saturday’s football game can expect a moment of silence for one of the true icons in MSU sports.
RIP Jud, and on behalf of Spartans everywhere, thank you.