By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Heathcote guided the Spartans to their first National Championship in 1979. He retired to Spokane, Wash. after Tom Izzo took over the reigns in 1995.
“The basketball world is a sadder place today [Monday] with the passing of Jud Heathcote,” Izzo said in a statement. “No one cared more about the welfare of the game than Jud. He was a coach’s coach and a mentor to many. …. 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. 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 [in] life.”
Heathcote, was born in Harvey, North Dakota, attended Washington State University from 1946-1949. After being a high school head coach from 1950 through 1964, he was hired by his alma mater in 1964, where he coaches through 1971, as an assistant coach.
He then was hired by the Montana Grizzlies in 1971, where he coaches for six seasons. He had an 80-53 record, before becoming the Spartans head coach in 1976. He was 339-221 with the Spartans and finished his career with an overall record of 419-274.
Besides the 1979 National Championship, he won the Big Sky Conference twice as a head coach. He also won the Big Ten Conference three-times. He was also the 1990 NABC Coach of the Year and was the 1978 and 1986 Big Ten Coach of the Year.
He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
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