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Michigan State women’s volleyball head coach Cathy George retires as winningest coach in MSU history

George was 302-233 in 17 seasons.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Michigan State Spartans women’s volleyball head coach Cathy George has announced her retirement. George’s career spanned 35 seasons, including spending the last 17 years in East Lansing.

George took over at MSU in 2005, taking the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament in her second year and advancing to the Sweet 16 in her third season at the helm.

George finished her tenure at Michigan State with a record of 302-233, and is the winningest coach in MSU volleyball program history.

Before her time at Michigan State, George became the first woman coach to take a team to the NCAA Division I Final Four with Texas-Arlington in 1989. Overall throughout her career, George took her teams to the NCAA Tournament 15 different times, including 10 trips with the Spartans. The 10 tournaments for MSU included three Sweet 16 appearances and an Elite Eight appearance.

“My time at Michigan State has been a wonderful experience,” George said via press release. “This is our home – the place where we’ve raised our family – both at home and our volleyball family. Our success through the years was always the byproduct of incredible contributions of so many different people. Coaches, support staff, administrators and the local community all pulled together for the best interests of Spartan volleyball. And above all, our amazing student-athletes gave us everything they had, while accomplishing so much on the court, in the classroom and in the community. They represented Michigan State with class, and it was an honor to be their coach.”

George earned her master’s degree in education from Central Michigan in 1987, but played volleyball at Illinois State from 1981-1985, and was inducted into the Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019. She started coaching North Dakota State in 1987 and has spent time with both Western Michigan and Texas-Arlington during her 35-year career.

“The decision to retire after 35 seasons as head coach including the last 17 at Michigan State is an incredibly emotional one,” George adds. “Coaching is an extremely rewarding profession, watching student-athletes develop and excel beyond their own expectations is amazing. But coaching is a demanding profession, which requires an incredible amount of energy and focus. As I went through some self-evaluation this offseason, I realized I had to do what was best for my family and for the program.”

Michigan State will begin searching for George’s replacement.

“Although my time is done as head coach, I will forever be a Spartan,” George continued. “And I can leave smiling because I know the future is bright for Michigan State volleyball. I believe in the team coming back, and I believe in the recruits. As I look to the future, Alan Haller is an athletic director who understands what it will take for Spartan volleyball to be successful at the national level. I wish I had the energy to continue on because I know great things are on the horizon under his watch. The next coach will have all the support they need for Spartan volleyball to be a national power.”

Michigan State didn’t have an outstanding last season under George by any means, as MSU finished with an 11-18 record in 2021, and went just 4-16 in the Big Ten with wins against Iowa, Purdue and Rutgers twice.

“Today is a day to celebrate Cathy George and all that she’s accomplished in her storied career,” Alan Haller, Michigan State vice president and director of athletics, said. “We are so appreciative of all she’s given not only to Michigan State Athletics, but to the game of volleyball and women’s sports overall. She was a trailblazer as the first woman to coach in the Final Four, and continued to be an example for head coaches in the Big Ten and nationally throughout her career. She, along with her husband Jerry, and sons T.J. and Conner, have been great members of our Spartan Family, and we all wish her great happiness in retirement.”

Cathy’s son, Conner George, played for Tom Izzo and the Michigan State basketball team from 2015-2020.