Legendary MSU Basketball Coach Jud Heathcote Dies At Age 90

Aug 29, 2017

Michigan State University Athletics announced the passing of basketball coach Jud Heathcote. He led the Spartans to their first NCAA Championship in 1979.  

According to a press release late Monday night, Heathcote died in Spokane, Washington. He was 90-years-old. 

Heathcote led the Spartans to 340 wins, three Big Ten titles, nine NCAA Tournament appearances and one national championship during his 19 seasons as head coach at Michigan State. The national championship year in 1979 saw Heathcote mold and mentor one of the greatest basketball players of all-time in Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Heathcote is the second-winningest coach in MSU history, which includes a 14-8 mark in the NCAA Tournament. 

An outpouring of sympathy from people around the country.

"Michigan State has lost one of its icons today," said current MSU head basketball coach Tom Izzo. "And yet nothing can erase his impact on the program, the players he coached and the coaches he mentored." 

"Without a doubt, he was one of the most influential people in my life, giving me a chance when no one else would," Izzo said. "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."

"For me, he was among of the best teachers I had the opportunity to be around," said MSU athletic director Mark Hollis. 

"Reflecting on my career and life, Jud was among the most influential people in regards to my preparation for both," Hollis said. "He will be missed, yet his memory will be seen through the many different people he impacted."

Many condelences came via Twitter.

Reaction from Magic Johnson to the death of MSU coach Jud Heathcote.
Credit Twitter

Ervin "Magic" Johnson sent several messages via Twitter.

"My college Coach Jud Heathcote will be missed so much. He was a great man & basketball coach who truly cared about me on & off the court," said Johnson.

"At MSU he pushed me in the classroom & coached me hard on the basketball court. I love him so much because he pushed me to be great."

"As a defensive coach known for perfecting the match up zone, we were always prepared for our opponent. He made us NCAA champions in 1979!"

"Coach Heathcote made me a better person, player, and champion. He turned a young kid into a man. Thank you so much for all you did for me."

"Prayers for the family and loved ones of Coach Heathcote during this difficult time," concluded Johnson.

"Jud Heathcote was a mentor who I idolized growing up," tweeted Long Beach State University coach Dan Momson.  "He taught me much more than just coaching. I will miss his wit and wisdom. RIP Coach!"

"R.I.P to the legendary Coach Heathcote," said current MSU player Miles Bridges.

"For the first time since I was 25, I won't get a birthday card from him and won't get a call from him after a game and that really bums me out," said South Florida coach Brian Gregory, who started his career as a graduate assistant for Heathcote and was promoted within the program before moving on to lead Dayton and Georgia Tech.

"I'll miss a lot of things, including his humor. It was almost a badge of honor if he ripped you because he was testing you. He was old school and that's how he showed he cared, ripping you in some way that he thought could drive home a point to make you look at some part of your life."

Heathcote is survived by his wife Beverly and many more family members.

No plans for services have been announced.

Heathcote was featured in a recent video: