Michigan State Basketball Coach Tom Izzo Named Finalist For Naismith Hall of Fame

Tom Izzo 2015.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.
Tom Izzo 2015. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

Here is the press release sent out today from Matt Larson Michigan State Basketball SID

Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo is one step closer to one of the ultimate honors for a basketball coach, as he was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as announced Friday at NBA All-Star Weekend.

Izzo is one of 14 finalists from the North American and Women’s committees eligible to go into the Hall of Fame in September. The Class of 2016 will be announced April 4 at the Final Four in Houston. Izzo is one of seven first-time finalists including 27-year NBA referee Darell Garretson, eleven-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson, the first African American coach in a professional league John McLendon, three-time NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal, four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes and 10-time AAU National Champions Wayland Baptist University.

Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are the only coach in NCAA history to win 100 games at four different schoolsCharles “Lefty” Driesell,the all-time winningest high school coachLeta Andrews,theall-time winningest boys high school coachRobert Hughes, three-time NBA All-StarKevin Johnson,three-time Consensus National College Coach of the YearMuffet McGraw,four-time Division III national champion coachBo Ryanand four-time National Coach of the YearEddie Sutton.

“To be nominated as a Finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Each finalist in the Class of 2016 has had a distinct impact on the the game we all love. Selecting the Enshrinees for the Class of 2016 will be a challenging task for the Honors Committee, but we look forward to making the announcement at the NCAA Final Four in April.”

As announced in 2015, three distinct modifications have been made to the election process for the upcoming class. Most notably, potential honorees are eligible on the ballot for Hall of Fame enshrinement after four full seasons of retirement – which allows for the inclusion of Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming on the Class of 2016 ballot.Absent from the All-Star announcement was Yao Ming, whose nomination falls within the Direct Elect International Committee. Enshrinees from the Direct Elect Committees will be recognized at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston in April. Direct Elect Committees include Early African-American Pioneers, International, Contributors and Veterans.

The Class of 2016 will be announced on Monday, April 4 at a press conference in Houston prior to the NCAA Men’s Championship game. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2016 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield,Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball, September 8-10, 2016. Tickets for the various Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Enshrinement events are on sale at www.hoophall.com.

Now in his 21st season as a head coach, all at Michigan State, Izzo has put together a resume worthy of induction. He has guided Michigan State to seven Final Fours (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015), ranking tied for fourth all-time and tied for second among active coaches. Since Izzo’s first season as head coach in 1995-96, no other coach has appeared in more than six. In guiding the Spartans to a seventh Final Four in 2015, Izzo became just the second coach to appear in seven Final Fours in a 17-year period since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Under Izzo’s watch, Michigan State has appeared in 18 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, tying the longest streak in Big Ten history, and ranking as the third-longest active streak and tied for the fourth longest of all time. Izzo’s 18 straight NCAA Tournaments are the fourth-longest streak for any coach in tournament history. His 46 NCAA Tournament victories rank tied for eighth all-time. To put his success into perspective, of Izzo’s 18 trips to the NCAA Tournament, MSU has advanced at least to the second weekend 13 times, including nine Elite Eights, while losing its opening game just three times. Two other stats stand out in Izzo’s NCAA Tournament success: 1) MSU is 21-4 in the second game of an NCAA Tournament weekend 2) MSU is 13-10 as the lower-seeded team as the 13 wins are the most in NCAA Tournament history for any coach.

In his 33rd season at Michigan State, Izzo has cemented his name among the very best coaches in Big Ten history. Earlier this year, he passed former Purdue coach Gene Keady to become the second-winningest coach at a Big Ten school, trailing only Indiana’s Bob Knight. His 240 Big Ten wins rank third all-time behind just Knight and Keady. He is one of just five coaches to win seven regular-season Big Ten Championships (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2009, 2010, 2012), while his four Big Ten Tournament Championships (1999, 2000, 2012, 2014) are tied for the most ever.

Izzo is an eight-time national coach of the year, capturing the award in 1998 (Basketball News, Associated Press, USBWA), 1999 (Basketball Times), 2001 (NABC), 2005 (Clair Bee), and 2012 (NABC, CBSSports.com). He is a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, capturing the award in 1998, 2009 and 2012.

Through his first 20 seasons, Izzo won 495 games, the fifth-highest total for a coach in NCAA history. This past November, Izzo won his 500th career game, becoming the eighth coach to accomplish the feat in his first 21 seasons. One of the things in which Izzo takes the most pride is the difficult schedule Michigan State has faced over the years. Since 1997-98, the year of Izzo’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan State has faced a nation’s-best 203 ranked opponents.

Izzo has repeatedly said that one of his top priorities is seeing his players reach their goals. Individually, players have excelled under Izzo. Nine Spartans (Charlie Bell, Mateen Cleaves, Paul Davis, Draymond Green, Gary Harris, Drew Neitzel, Adreian Payne, Morris Peterson and Jason Richardson) have earned some form of All-America honors. Twenty-eight different players have earned all-conference recognition, including 11 different first-team honorees, four Big Ten Players of the Year (Cleaves, Green, Kalin Lucas, Peterson), and one Big Ten Freshman of the Year (Harris).

Spartan student-athletes are prepared for life after Michigan State, both on and off the court. Under Izzo, 16 Spartans have been selected in the NBA Draft, including 15 since 2000, eight of whom were first rounders (Cleaves-2000 first round, Peterson-2000 first round, Richardson-2001 first round, Zach Randolph-2001 first round, Andre Hutson-2001 second round, Marcus Taylor-2002 second round, Erazem Lorbek-2005 second round, Shannon Brown-2006 first round, Maurice Ager-2006 first round, Davis-2006 second round, Goran Suton-2009 second round, Green-2012 second round, Adreian Payne-2014 first round, Harris-2014 first round, Branden Dawson-2015 second round). In addition, four undrafted Spartans (Bell, Alan Anderson, Lucas and Keith Appling) have also appeared in the NBA. Numerous other former Spartans have enjoyed lucrative professional careers playing overseas.

The Spartans have also experienced success in the classroom under Izzo. Chris Hill and Neitzel earned Academic All-America honors. Among players who have completed their eligibility under Izzo, 84 percent have left MSU with a degree.

Izzo arrived at Michigan State prior to the 1983-84 season. He was promoted to associate head coach in 1990, and on March 1993, then-MSU Athletics Director Merrily Dean Baker recommended that Izzo be appointed head coach following Jud Heathcote’s retirement following the 1994-95 season. He came to MSU from Northern Michigan, where he served as an assistant at his alma mater from 1979-83. His coaching career began as head coach at Ishpeming High School in 1977-78.