Ex-Michigan State Spartans men's basketball coach Jud Heathcote dies at age 90

In this Nov. 22, 2009, photo, former Michigan State basketball coach Jud Heathcote, left, is presented with a medal by current Michigan State coach Tom Izzo as Heathcote is inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Mo. Heathcote, who led MSU and Magic Johnson to the 1979 NCAA championship, has died. He was 90. The school says Heathcote died Monday in Spokane, Washington. (AP file photo)

By LARRY LAGE

AP Sports Writer

Jud Heathcote, who led Michigan State and Magic Johnson to the 1979 NCAA championship, has died. He was 90.

The school announced Heathcote died Monday in Spokane, Washington.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo was hired by Heathcote as a part-time assistant in 1983. With Heathcote’s support, Izzo was promoted to replace him when he retired in 1995.

“The basketball world is a sadder place today with the passing of Jud Heathcote,” said Izzo, a native of Iron Mountain and graduate of Northern Michigan University. “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. 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.”

Heathcote won 340 games, three Big Ten titles and appeared in nine NCAA tournaments during his 19-year career at Michigan State.

He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 along with Johnson and Larry Bird, whose Indiana State team lost to the Heathcote-led Spartans in the 1979 final.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches gave Heathcote the Golden Anniversary Award for 50 years of service in 2001, when he was also inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame.