The Orlando Magic have expressed interest in hiring longtime Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo to the same position, Michael Scotto of The Athletic reports:
The Orlando Magic have expressed interest in Michigan State coach Tom Izzo for the team's head coaching position, league sources told The Athletic.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) May 24, 2018
Shortly thereafter, though, Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal reported that Izzo will not be taking the job.
Tom Izzo won't be taking the Orlando Magic head coaching job, a source tells me.
— Graham Couch (@Graham_Couch) May 24, 2018
Izzo has been at Michigan State since 1983
Izzo, 63, started his college basketball coaching career at his alma mater, Northern Michigan, in 1979 and moved to Michigan State in 1983, where he served under Jud Heathcote. He took over as head coach following Heathcote’s retirement in 1995.
To say Izzo has found major success on the hardwood in East Lansing would be an understatement. He won the 2000 national title, has been to seven Final Fours and has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year on three occasions. He has won the conference regular-season title eight times and the tournament title five times. He has had 18 of his former players get drafted —nine in the first round — and will likely have two more this summer in projected lottery picks Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges.
Overall, he’s 574-225 in his time with the Spartans, good for a 70.6 winning percentage. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
Izzo stated in 2010 that he was a Spartan ‘for life’
The Magic certainly aren’t the first NBA team to express interest in Izzo’s services. The Atlanta Hawks enquired following Michigan State’s national championship in 2000. Ten years later, Izzo turned down an offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers after significant discussions with the team’s ownership.
After turning down the Cavaliers, Izzo issued the following statement at a press conference:
“I’m pleased to say I am here for life at Michigan State.”
Izzo was never able to talk with LeBron James — then a free agent — and he admitted that was a factor in his return to Michigan State. James, of course, would go on to leave Cleveland for Miami later that summer, and there hasn’t been much NBA interest in Izzo since until now.
Could sexual assault allegations against his former players change his mind?
Berthed out of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal at Michigan State, allegations involving several of Izzo’s former players came to light over the past season. Izzo was asked to comment on said allegations on multiple occasions and has, by and large, sidestepped said questions.
— Josh Stirn (@Josh_Stirn) January 28, 2018
From late January:
An ESPN “Outside The Lines” reporter asked Izzo a series of tough but fair questions on Sunday after Michigan State’s victory at Maryland. The first two pertained to Travis Walton, an ex-Michigan State player reportedly accused of raping a female Michigan State student in 2010 while serving as a student-assistant on Izzo’s staff.
Asked why Walton was still a part of the program at the time of the alleged rape even though he had been accused of punching a different female student in the face at a bar a few months earlier, Izzo sidestepped the question. He also insisted he doesn’t recall if the rape allegation was why Walton left the Michigan State program later in 2010.
When asked about his handling of former players Adreian Payne and Keith Appling, both of whom were not suspended after rape allegations in September, 2010, Izzo was similarly tight-lipped. “I’ve cooperated with every investigation — every one. And I will continue to cooperate with every investigation — every one.”
Whether or not this year has changed Izzo’s mind regarding his “for life” comments remains to be seen, but at the moment, the Magic are at least interested in seeing if it has.
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