Jud Heathcote

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Jud Heathcote
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1927-05-27) May 27, 1927 (age 89)
Harvey, North Dakota
Playing career
1946–1949 Washington State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1950–1964 West Valley HS (WA)
1964–1971 Washington State (assistant)
1971–1976 Montana
1976–1995 Michigan State
Head coaching record
Overall 419–274 (college)
Accomplishments and honors
1 NCAA Division I Tournament Championship (1979)
2 Big Sky (1975–1976)
3 Big Ten (1978–1979, 1990)
1 NABC Coach of the Year (1990)
2 Big Ten Coach of the Year (1978, 1986)
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2009

George Melvin "Jud" Heathcote (born May 27, 1927) is a former American basketball player and coach. He was a college basketball head coach for 24 seasons: five at the University of Montana (1971–1976) and 19 at Michigan State University (1976–1995). Heathcote coached Magic Johnson during his two years at Michigan State, including the 1979 National Championship season.


Heathcote was born in Harvey, North Dakota, to Marion Grant Heathcote and Fawn (Walsh) Heathcote. Two years after his father died in a 1930 diphtheria epidemic, he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Manchester, Washington, and lived there for the rest of his childhood.

Coaching career[edit]

The stint at Montana was the first for Heathcote as head coach of a college varsity program. Previously, he had coached at West Valley High School in Spokane, Washington for 14 seasons, and at Washington State University for seven years, five seasons as freshman coach and two seasons as frosh-varsity coach.

In the 1974–75 season at Montana, he led them to their first Big Sky Conference championship. The Grizzlies advanced to the NCAA Regionals, losing to eventual tournament champion UCLA.

Heathcote was then hired by Joseph Kearney to take on the head basketball coaching job at Michigan State in 1976 and began the most successful phase of his coaching career. In his third season at Michigan State, Heathcote guided the Spartans to the 1979 NCAA Championship. The Spartans, led by Magic Johnson, defeated the Larry Bird-led Indiana State Sycamores in the title game.

In his 19 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 still lives. He played handball until well into his seventies, and continues to play recreational golf. While Heathcote continues to follow Michigan State during the college season, his primary basketball interest is now the local Gonzaga University; he attends all Bulldogs home games, and has a monthly lunch with head coach Mark Few.[1]

Coaching tree[edit]

Several of Heathcote's former assistants and players went on to successful head coaching jobs including:

Head coaching record[edit]


Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Montana Grizzlies (Big Sky Conference) (1971–1976)
1971–72 Montana 14–12 7–7 T–4th
1972–73 Montana 13–13 7–7 4th
1973–74 Montana 19–8 11–3 T–1st
1974–75 Montana 21–8 13–1 1st NCAA Regional Fourth Place
1975–76 Montana 13–12 7–7 5th
Montana: 80–53 45–25
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten Conference) (1976–1995)
1976–77 Michigan State 12–15 9–9 6th
1977–78 Michigan State 25–5 15–3 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1978–79 Michigan State 26–6 13–5 1st NCAA Champions
1979–80 Michigan State 12–15 6–12 8th
1980–81 Michigan State 13–14 7–11 8th
1981–82 Michigan State 11–17 6–12 T–7th
1982–83 Michigan State 17–13 9–9 T–6th NIT Second Round
1983–84 Michigan State 16–12 9–9 5th
1984–85 Michigan State 19–10 10–8 T–5th NCAA First Round
1985–86 Michigan State 23–8 12–6 3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1986–87 Michigan State 11–17 6–12 7th
1987–88 Michigan State 10–18 5–13 8th
1988–89 Michigan State 18–15 6–12 T–8th NIT Semifinal
1989–90 Michigan State 28–6 15–3 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
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: 339–221 181–161
Total: 419–274

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Medcalf, Myron (May 29, 2014). "What happens after coaching?". ESPN.com. Retrieved May 29, 2014.