Tom Izzo

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Tom Izzo
Izzo in 2022
Current position
TitleHead Coach
TeamMichigan State
ConferenceBig Ten
Record707–295 (.706)
Annual salary$6,200,000
Biographical details
Born (1955-01-30) January 30, 1955 (age 69)
Iron Mountain, Michigan, U.S.
Playing career
1973–1977Northern Michigan
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1977–1979Ishpeming HS
1979–1983Northern Michigan (assistant)
1983–1995Michigan State (assistant)
1995–presentMichigan State
Head coaching record
Overall707–295 (.706)
Tournaments56–23 (NCAA Division I)
2–2 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2016 (profile)

Thomas Michael Izzo[1] (/ˈɪz/, Italian pronunciation: [ˈittso]); born January 30, 1955) is an American college basketball coach who has been the head coach at Michigan State University since 1995.[2] On April 4, 2016, Izzo was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.[3]

Izzo has led the Spartans to eight Final Fours in the NCAA Tournament, which include the NCAA National Championship in 2000 and a Runner-Up finish in 2009. His teams have won ten Big Ten regular season titles and six Big Ten tournament titles in his 29 years at Michigan State. Izzo has the most wins in school history and has appeared in 26 consecutive NCAA tournaments, the longest streak of tournament appearances all-time in men's college basketball. He has never had a losing season as a head coach.[4] In addition, MSU set the Big Ten record for the longest home court winning streak between 1998 and 2002. Several of these accomplishments led former ESPN analyst Andy Katz to deem Michigan State the top college basketball program for the decade of 1998 to 2007.[5]

Izzo is currently the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten Conference and his teams are often recognized for their rebounding prowess and defensive tenacity. He has won four national coach of the year awards and maintains a considerable coaching tree—several of his former assistants are currently head coaches at other Division I schools. Izzo has won 10 regular-season conference titles, the third most in conference history. He has also won the most Big Ten tourney titles (six) in conference history.

On March 6, 2022, Izzo surpassed Bob Knight for the most wins by a men's basketball coach at a Big Ten school with 663.[6] On January 30, 2024, Izzo earned his 700th career win.[7]


Playing career[edit]

Izzo, who is of Italian[8] and Finnish descent, was born and raised in Iron Mountain in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the border of Wisconsin. In his hometown he met best friend and former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci. Both he and Mariucci attended Iron Mountain High where they were teammates on the football, basketball and track teams. At Northern Michigan University in Marquette, where they were roommates, Izzo played guard for the men's basketball team from 1973 to 1977. In his senior season, he set a school record for minutes played and was named a Division II All-American.

Early coaching career[edit]

After graduating from Northern Michigan, Izzo was head coach at Ishpeming High School for one season. He then took an assistant coaching job at Northern Michigan University from 1979 to 1983. Izzo was then named a part-time assistant at Michigan State in September 1983. After a short two-month stay in 1986 as an assistant coach at University of Tulsa, Izzo returned to Michigan State when assistant Mike Deane left to become head coach at Siena College. Prior to the 1990–91 season, then-coach Jud Heathcote elevated Izzo to associate head coach. After Heathcote's retirement following the 1994–95 season and upon both Heathcote and the Michigan State Athletic Director's recommendation, Izzo was named the new head coach of men's basketball for MSU.[9]

Head coach at Michigan State[edit]

Izzo in 2011
Izzo and John Calipari of Kentucky, the two highest paid college coaches in 2012[10]

Hired as head coach at Michigan State in 1995, Izzo is currently the longest-tenured basketball coach in the Big Ten Conference. He became the coach with the most wins in school history after winning his 341st game on November 29, 2009, to surpass Heathcote.[11] In his first two seasons as head coach, Izzo went 9–9 finishing 6th and 7th in the conference and failed to make the NCAA Tournament. In 1998, MSU's record in conference improved to 13–3 and Izzo won the first of his 10 regular-season Big Ten championships. 1998 also saw Michigan State begin a streak of 25 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, which is the 2nd longest current streak among Division I teams. Izzo has a record of 54–23 in the NCAA Tournament. In 1999, Izzo won his first of six Big Ten tournament titles, and went to his first Final Four, the first of three straight Final Four appearances, joining Krzyzewski and Ben Howland as the only three coaches who have made three consecutive Final Fours since the NCAA Tournament bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. In the instate rivalry with Michigan, Izzo's official record against the Wolverines is 31–14, although Michigan vacated five of their wins in the series at the start of his head coaching career.

In 2000, Izzo led MSU to its second NCAA national championship with an 89–76 win over Florida. Eighty-two percent of his players who completed their eligibility left MSU with a degree. Over the years, Izzo has been pursued by the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New Jersey Nets for head coaching jobs.[12][13][14] After a brief flirtation with Cleveland, on June 15, 2010, Izzo reported to the Michigan State University's Board of Trustees that he would remain head coach of Michigan State, in which he stated he was "a Spartan for life."[15]

Izzo fell short of obtaining his second national championship in 2009 with a loss to North Carolina 89–72 in Detroit. His streak of three straight Final Four appearances from 1999 to 2001 is the third-longest of all time, and his six Final Four appearances in the years 1999–2010 were matched by no other team in college basketball.

In 2013, Izzo was voted as the fifth angriest coach in college basketball by USA Today Sports, an honor that he cherishes.[16]

On November 26, 2015, Izzo won his 500th career game, all with Michigan State, with a win over Boston College in the Wooden Legacy.[17] On January 28, 2016, Izzo won his 513th career game moving him into second place past Gene Keady all time for wins by a coach in the Big Ten, at the time trailing only Bob Knight.[18]

On March 18, 2016, MSU suffered what was, at the time, perhaps the single greatest upset in NCAA Tournament history when No. 15 seeded Middle Tennessee defeated the No. 2 seeded Spartans 90–81.[19] It was believed that MSU was the equivalent of a No. 1 seed and Vegas odds had them pegged the favorite to win the title. Middle Tennessee led from start to finish and held off repeated Michigan State threats to take the lead. Despite that, Izzo stated that the team "resurrected me".[20]

On October 13, 2016, Izzo won the Dean Smith Award which is awarded to “an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values of the late North Carolina coaching great”.[21]

Izzo led the 2018–19 Spartans to a 32–7 overall record, his fifth 30-win season, and 19th season with 20+ wins, nearly triple his predecessor's seven 20-win campaigns; the team reached the Final Four for the eighth time under Izzo. On October 21, 2019, at the outset of Izzo's 25th season leading the Spartans, Michigan State was named the preseason No. 1 team in The Associated Press Top 25 men's college basketball preseason poll for the first time in program history, dating to the beginning of the AP poll in 1948.[22]

On February 26, 2022, with a win over the No. 4-ranked Purdue, Izzo tied former Indiana coach Bob Knight for the most wins all-time at a Big Ten school.[23] On March 8, 2022, he passed Knight for the most wins.[24] On January 30, 2024, also his 69th birthday, he earned his 700th career win.[25]

On August 11, 2022 Izzo signed a 5-year contract extension, worth 6.2 million dollars annually, with the Spartans. The contract solidifies that Izzo will be a "Spartan for life".[26]

Hall of Fame[edit]

On April 4, 2016, Izzo was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.[27] Izzo chose former Maryland head coach Gary Williams to introduce him at the Hall of Fame ceremony.[28] He was inducted into the Hall of Fame on September 9, 2016.[29]

In the Fall of 2016, Izzo was named to the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) Hall of Fame.[30]

Coaching philosophy[edit]

We'll play anybody, anyplace, anytime. It doesn't matter, morning, noon or night, and it doesn't matter who it is.

Tom Izzo[31]

Izzo's teams are known for strong guard play, toughness and rebounding. Izzo is famed for his "war" rebounding drill, in which the players wear football helmets and shoulder pads.[32] His motto is "Players Play – Tough Players Win".[33] His other coaching philosophies include, "he doesn't determine playing time, players do", "A player-coached team is better than a coach-coached team” and “Typically, it’s on the players.” Izzo is also known for scheduling extremely tough non-conference schedules as preparation for the NCAA tournament in March.

Coaching tree[edit]

Two of Izzo's former assistants are currently head coaches at other schools:

One of Izzo's former assistants was a head coach in the NBA:

Several former Izzo assistants were college head coaches:

Current Izzo assistants who were previously college head coaches:

Tom Izzo with USA Basketball in 2014

Other basketball endeavors[edit]

USA basketball[edit]

Izzo was head coach of the USA Basketball men's team that took fourth place at the 2003 Pan American Games. Prior to that, he was assistant coach of the team that had a 5–0 record and won the gold medal at the 2001 Goodwill Games. Izzo served on the Collegiate Committee of USA Basketball's 2005–2008 Quadrennium Committees.[34]

Operation Hardwood[edit]

In 2005 and 2006, Izzo participated in Operation Hardwood, in which college coaches went to Kuwait military camps to coach basketball teams of American service members. Among the other coaches were Tubby Smith, Gary Williams, and Rick Barnes. In 2005, Izzo's team won the tournament championship.

Marriage and family[edit]

Tom Izzo has been married to his wife, Lupe Marinez Izzo, since 1992. They have a daughter, Raquel, an adopted son, Steven, and one granddaughter. Steven is a walk-on player for his father at Michigan State.[35][36]

Head coaching record[edit]

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten Conference) (1995–present)
1995–96 Michigan State 16–16 9–9 7th NIT second round
1996–97 Michigan State 17–12 9–9 T–6th NIT second round
1997–98 Michigan State 22–8 13–3 T–1st NCAA Division I Sweet 16
1998–99 Michigan State 33–5 15–1 1st NCAA Division I Final Four
1999–00 Michigan State 32–7 13–3 T–1st NCAA Division I Champion
2000–01 Michigan State 28–5 13–3 T–1st NCAA Division I Final Four
2001–02 Michigan State 19–12 10–6 5th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2002–03 Michigan State 22–13 10–6 T–3rd NCAA Division I Elite Eight
2003–04 Michigan State 18–12 12–4 T–2nd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2004–05 Michigan State 26–7 13–3 2nd NCAA Division I Final Four
2005–06 Michigan State 22–12 8–8 T–6th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2006–07 Michigan State 23–12 8–8 T–7th NCAA Division I Round of 32
2007–08 Michigan State 27–9 12–6 4th NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2008–09 Michigan State 31–7 15–3 1st NCAA Division I Runner-Up
2009–10 Michigan State 28–9 14–4 T–1st NCAA Division I Final Four
2010–11 Michigan State 19–15 9–9 T–4th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2011–12 Michigan State 29–8 13–5 T–1st NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2012–13 Michigan State 27–9 13–5 T–2nd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2013–14 Michigan State 29–9 12–6 T–2nd NCAA Division I Elite Eight
2014–15 Michigan State 27–12 12–6 T–3rd NCAA Division I Final Four
2015–16 Michigan State 29–6 13–5 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2016–17 Michigan State 20–15 10–8 T–5th NCAA Division I Round of 32
2017–18 Michigan State 30–5 16–2 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
2018–19 Michigan State 32–7 16–4 T–1st NCAA Division I Final Four
2019–20 Michigan State 22–9 14–6 T–1st Postseason cancelled
2020–21 Michigan State 15–13 9–11 T–8th NCAA Division I First Four
2021–22 Michigan State 23–13 11–9 T–7th NCAA Division I Round of 32
2022–23 Michigan State 21–13 11–8 4th NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2023–24 Michigan State 20–15 10–10 T–6th NCAA Division I Round of 32
Michigan State: 707–295 (.706) 343–170 (.669)
Total: 707–295 (.706)

      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

Current through 2023–24 season

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hogan, John (July 19, 2008). "Sunday Profile: Tom Izzo, Da Hooper". Grand Rapids Press. Archived from the original on July 31, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  2. ^ [1] Michigan State's Tom Izzo is college hoops' best coach, bar none Retrieved January 23, 2011
  3. ^ Wire, SI (April 4, 2016). "Shaq, Iverson, Ming headline Hall of Fame class". Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  4. ^ Lounsberry, Matthew (March 12, 2023). "NCAA Tournament: Tom Izzo passes Mike Krzyzewski for national record". Sports Illustrated Michigan State Spartans News, Analysis and More. Retrieved June 14, 2023.
  5. ^ Katz, Andy (May 7, 2007). "Spartans' performance stacks up against anyone's". ESPN. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  6. ^ "Izzo's 663rd win with Spartans tops Knight mark". March 7, 2022. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  7. ^ "MSU's Izzo claims 700th win, on birthday, vs. U-M". January 31, 2024. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  8. ^ "Watch Tom Izzo: Inside Michigan State Basketball".
  9. ^ Tom Izzo Biography Archived July 30, 2012, at Retrieved June 19, 2010
  10. ^ Tom Van Riper (March 5, 2012). "The highest-paid college basketball coaches". Forbes. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  11. ^ Izzo sets Michigan State record for wins as Spartans cruise CBS Sports. Retrieved June 19, 2010
  12. ^ Report: Hawks make offer to Izzo", May 12, 2000, retrieved August 7, 2006
  13. ^ "Izzo not interested in Raptors, plans to stay put Archived April 21, 2005, at the Wayback Machine" by Kelly Theiser, The State News, June 15, 2004, retrieved August 7, 2006
  14. ^ "Tom to Tucson: Izzo Top Candidate for Arizona Job" by Chris Domschke "The Beardown" "" November 14, 2008, retrieved November 21, 2008
  15. ^ IZZO STAYS A SPARTAN WLNS-TV 6 Lansing, Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  16. ^ "The 10 angriest coaches in college basketball". USA Today.
  17. ^ "Izzo wins 500th, fueled by Valentine triple-double". Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  18. ^ "Izzo cherishes chance to pass 'unlucky' Keady in B1G wins". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  19. ^ Rutherford, Mike (March 18, 2016). "Middle Tennessee State's win over Michigan State is the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history". Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  20. ^ "Izzo: "They resurrected me"". SpartanTailgate. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  21. ^ "Spartans' Tom Izzo wins Dean Smith Award". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  22. ^ "Spartans No. 1 in AP preseason poll for 1st time". October 21, 2019. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  23. ^ Lounsberry, Matthew (February 28, 2022). "Michigan State's Tom Izzo ties Bob Knight's record, draws lofty praise from Indiana-native Matt Painter". Sports Illustrated Michigan State Spartans News, Analysis and More. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  24. ^ Austin, Kyle (March 8, 2022). "Tom Izzo just passed Bob Knight in wins at a Big Ten school. What other records are in reach?". mlive. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  25. ^ "Tom Izzo's epic journey to 700 wins with Michigan State basketball". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  26. ^ "Tom Izzo, Michigan State agree on new five-year rollover contract that could make him a 'Spartan for life'". August 11, 2022. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  27. ^ "'It's surreal': MSU's Izzo makes Hall of Fame". Detroit News. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  28. ^ "Former Maryland coach Gary Williams to introduce Tom Izzo at Hall of Fame enshrinement". Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  29. ^ "After making the Hall of Fame, only one goal remains for Tom Izzo". September 11, 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  30. ^ "View Hall of Fame Inductees".
  31. ^ McNeill, Kevin (November 19, 2005). "Maui Invitational: Strength of Schedule". Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  32. ^ Shelton, Gary. "Spartans are bruisers, and proud of it". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  33. ^ Ken Mannie; Mike Vorkapich. "Spartan Basketball – Training With a Football Mentality". Coach and Athletic Director. Scholastic Corporation. Archived from the original on May 9, 2006. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  34. ^ "USA Basketball: USA Basketball 2001–2004 Quadrennium Committees". January 18, 2002. Archived from the original on December 29, 2005. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  35. ^ "Tom Izzo". Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  36. ^ "Tom Izzo's Wife, Lupe Marinez Izzo". Retrieved April 17, 2018.

External links[edit]