On his way to becoming a legendary coach, he has lead the Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team, presiding over the team since 1995.
Under Izzo, the Michigan State program has been one of the most successful in the country. Izzo has led the Spartans to the 2000 NCAA Division I National Championship, the 2009 NCAA Division I National Championship Game, six Final Fours, and seven Big Ten Championships in his first 17 years at Michigan State. He is coach with the most wins in school history (after winning his 341st game on November 29, 2009 to surpass Heathcote). Izzo’s teams have been invited to the past 15 consecutive NCAA tournaments (he is just the 5th coach in Big Ten history to win 7 conference titles), in addition to setting the Big Ten record for the longest home winning streak.
Currently the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten Conference, Izzo, whose teams are recognized for their rebounding prowess and defensive tenacity, has won four (4) 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’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. His motto is “Players Play – Tough Players Win” His other coaching philosophy is that “he doesn’t determine playing time, players do.” Izzo is also known for scheduling extremely tough non-conference schedules as preparation for the NCAA tournament. This way the players have already played the top teams in the country and won’t be fazed come March Madness.
Coach Izzo was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.