WLNS – George Melvin “Jud” Heathcote, the former Michigan State University Basketball coach that led the team to the 1979 National championship, has died at the age of 90.
According to MSU Athletics, Heathcote died after complications from a heart valve replacement near his home in Spokane, Washington.
Heathcote was the head coach at MSU from 1976 to 1995.
He spent 24 years in college coaching, five at the University of Montana and the final 19 at Michigan State.
He coached former MSU Basketball star Magic Johnson and was instrumental in the hiring of the current MSU Basketball coach, Tom Izzo.
“Without a doubt, he was one of the most influential people in my life, giving me a chance when no one else would. Any coaching success I’ve ever had is because of him,” Izzo said. “Michigan State has lost one of it’s 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 416 games in his college coaching career, 336 of them at MSU.
“Coach Heathcote had an impact on so many people,” MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis said. “For me, he was among the best teachers I had the opportunity to be around. Reflecting on my career and life, Jud was among the most influential people in regards to my preparation for both.”