George Melvin "Jud" Heathcote (May 27, 1927 – August 28, 2017) was an American basketball player and coach. He was a college basketball head coach for 24 seasons: five at the University of Montana (1971–1976) and nineteen at Michigan State University (1976–1995). Heathcote coached Magic Johnson during his two years at Michigan State, concluding with the 1979 national championship season. He also coached the University of Montana to a national handball championship in 1974.
|Born||May 27, 1927|
Harvey, North Dakota
|Died||August 28, 2017 (aged 90)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1950–1964||West Valley HS|
|1964–1971||Washington State (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|NCAA Division I Tournament (1979)|
2 Big Sky regular season (1975, 1976)
3 Big Ten regular season (1978, 1979, 1990)
|NABC Coach of the Year (1990)|
2× Big Ten Coach of the Year (1978, 1986)
|College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2009
Born in Harvey, North Dakota, to Marion Grant Heathcote and Fawn (Walsh) Heathcote; his father was a coach, but died in a 1930 diphtheria epidemic. His mother was a teacher and moved to live with her parents in Manchester, Washington, west of Seattle.
Heathcote developed into a fine three-sport athlete at South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, and after a year in the Navy V-5 program as World War II ended, he enrolled at Washington State College in Pullman and played basketball for the Cougars under head coach Jack Friel.
At age 44, Montana was the first for Heathcote as head coach of a college varsity program. Out of college, he coached for fourteen seasons at West Valley High School in Spokane, Washington, then at alma mater Washington State for seven years; five as freshman coach and two as frosh-varsity coach.
Montana had little historic success in the sport, but in his fourth season at Missoula in 1974–75, Heathcote led the Grizzlies to their first Big Sky Conference championship. They advanced to the NCAA Regionals, but lost by three in Portland in the Sweet Sixteen to eventual champion UCLA.
Heathcote was hired by Joseph Kearney at Michigan State in April 1976 and began the most successful phase of his coaching career. In his third season in East Lansing, he guided the Spartans to the NCAA championship. Led on the court by sophomore Magic Johnson, MSU defeated the Larry Bird-led Indiana State Sycamores in the title game in Salt Lake City.
In his nineteen years at Michigan State, the Spartans made nine NCAA Tournament appearances and three National Invitation Tournament (NIT) appearances. As a coach, Heathcote was particularly noted for his excellent defensive strategies on the court and was second to none in blocking the opposing team from penetrating to the hoop. Heathcote retired after the 1994–95 season, having won 418 games and lost 275, for a .603 winning percentage. He was succeeded by Tom Izzo, a thirteen-year assistant coach and associate head coach for Heathcote's final five seasons.
After retiring from coaching, Heathcote returned to Spokane, where he lived until his death. He played handball until well into his seventies, and continued to play recreational golf. While Heathcote continued to follow Michigan State during the college season, his primary basketball interest in his final years was the local Gonzaga University; he attended all Bulldogs home games, and had a monthly lunch with head coach Mark Few.
On August 28, 2017, Heathcote passed away at the age of 90. "Michigan State has lost one of its icons today," current MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. "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."
Several of Heathcote's former assistants and players went on to successful head coaching jobs including:
- Jim Brandenburg: Montana, Wyoming, San Diego State
- Don Monson: Idaho, Oregon
- Mike Deane: Siena, Marquette, Lamar, Wagner
- Tom Izzo: Michigan State
- Blaine Taylor: Montana, Old Dominion, UC Irvine
- Scott Skiles: Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic
- Stan Joplin: Toledo
- Mark Montgomery: Northern Illinois
- Brian Gregory: Dayton, Georgia Tech
- Tom Crean: Marquette, Indiana, Georgia
- Bill Berry, San Jose State
- Kelvin Sampson, Washington State, Oklahoma, Indiana, Houston
- Jim Boylen, head coach, Chicago Bulls
- Jim Boylan, assistant, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Dwayne Stephens, associate head coach, Michigan State
Head coaching recordEdit
|Montana Grizzlies (Big Sky Conference) (1971–1976)|
|1973–74||Montana||19–8||11–3||T–1st||Big Sky playoff|
|1974–75||Montana||21–8||13–1||1st||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|Montana:||80–53 (.602)||45–25 (.643)|
|Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten Conference) (1976–1995)|
|1977–78||Michigan State||25–5||15–3||1st||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1978–79||Michigan State||26–6||13–5||1st||NCAA Champion|
|1982–83||Michigan State||17–13||9–9||T–6th||NIT Second Round|
|1984–85||Michigan State||19–10||10–8||T–5th||NCAA First Round|
|1985–86||Michigan State||23–8||12–6||3rd||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1988–89||Michigan State||18–15||6–12||T–8th||NIT Semifinal|
|1989–90||Michigan State||28–6||15–3||1st||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1990–91||Michigan State||19–11||11–7||T–3rd||NCAA Second Round|
|1991–92||Michigan State||22–8||11–7||T–3rd||NCAA Second Round|
|1992–93||Michigan State||15–13||7–11||T–8th||NIT First Round|
|1993–94||Michigan State||20–12||10–8||T–4th||NCAA Second Round|
|1994–95||Michigan State||22–6||14–4||2nd||NCAA First Round|
|Michigan State:||340–220 (.607)||182–160 (.532)|
Postseason invitational champion
*Due to forfeits related to NCAA sanctions to Minnesota for improper selling of tickets, MSU's official record for the 1976–77 season is 12–15, 9–9 though they finished the season 10–17, 7–11.
^Due to NCAA sanctions against Wisconsin for providing improper benefits for players, MSU's official record for the 1981–82 season is 12–16, 7–11 though they finished the season 11–17, 7–11. The official record for the 1983–84 season is 16–12, 9–9 though they finished the season 15–13, 8–10
- Blanchette, John (August 28, 2017). "Spokane's Jud Heathcote, longtime coach at Michigan State, dies at 90". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington).
- "The heart of Grizzly basketball goes quiet". University of Montana Athletics. August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
- Keith, Larry (April 2, 1979). "They caged the Bird". Sports Illustrated. p. 16.
- "Cougars hire Jud". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). May 27, 1964. p. 14.
- "Heathcote named basketball assistant at Washington State". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). May 27, 1964. p. 18.
- Cawood, Neil (March 21, 1975). "It's UCLA - despite Eric Hays' heroics". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 3C.
- "Gritty Montana's rally falls short as UCLA struggle to 67-64 win". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 21, 1975. p. 30.
- "Bruins slip past Montana, 67-64". Lewiston Morning-Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. March 21, 1975. p. 1B.
- "MSU tabs Rogers, Heathcote". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 6, 1976. p. 19.
- "Heathcote gets MSU job". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. April 6, 1976. p. 1B.
- Medcalf, Myron (May 29, 2014). "What happens after coaching?". ESPN.com. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
- Larry Lage (2017-08-28). "Former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote dies at 90". abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2017-08-28.
- "Ex-Michigan State coach Heathcote dies at 90". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
- "Former Michigan State basketball coach Jud Heathcote dies at age 90". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
- Fury, Shawn (2010-01-05). "Shawn's Blog: Who was the best college team that never existed?". Shawn's Blog. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- "NCAA punishes Yoder, Wisconsin basketball (July 18, 1986)". Retrieved 2017-08-30.