The summer of 2010 proved to be an eye opener for Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo. After saying no to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Izzo was cheered for showing the true meaning of being a "Spartan for Life". Now word of an even bigger commitment to MSU and its athletics department has been released as Izzo and his wife Lupe have given the university a $1 million dollar gift.
"We've been blessed to be a part of the Michigan State family for nearly 30 years," Izzo said. "Jud Heathcote taught me long ago that the only good deal was one that benefits both parties, and that perfectly describes my relationship with Michigan State University. My wife Lupe and I, along with our children Raquel and Steven, have dedicated our lives to this University, because we believe in intercollegiate athletics and the positive role it plays in so many lives. The Spartans students are our passion, our life's work. We've raised a family here and become entrenched in the mission of the University. And in return, we've received so much more than we've given. With these blessings, we felt it was time to make a financial contribution."
Having played a major role in the hiring of Mark Dantonio just a few years ago, Izzo's gift will benefit Spartans football greatly. Why the decision to earmark so much for the football program was an easy one for Izzo.
"Supporting the football team was an easy decision. Coach Dantonio is a man of character, building a championship program. But what makes football special is that it truly benefits everyone across the university. Spearheaded by football's success, there is great momentum throughout all programs."
Not only will football benefit, other athletic university programs will also benefit as scholarship endowments, capital projects, Olympic Sports and the Spartans Marching Band will receive support.
"The goal of our gift, and others in the campaign, is that we might ensure that the success continues for Spartan student-athletes past, present and future," Izzo added.
Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon praised the Izzo's gift and their commitment to the future success of many.
"Both Tom and Lupe Izzo have been energetic supporters of this institution and this community," said Simon. "Spartans know that Tom is truly exceptional because he's far more than a great coach. He embodies the hardworking excellence at the core of the Team MSU ethos, and the Izzos' generous gift will help us pursue that ideal for all our student-athletes."
Also expressing his pleasure with the gift was MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis.
"Coach Tom Izzo is one of the great treasures of not only Michigan State University but the entire state," said Hollis. "This gift is but the latest example of his extraordinary leadership. Last summer, Tom Izzo said he was a Spartan for life. It's actions like this gift that demonstrate that Spartan athletics is life for Tom and Lupe and their family.
"By making a financial contribution to the football program, the Izzo family is not only benefitting all 25 sports, but the entire University. Football games are more than just athletic competition, they are a gathering place for the University community. And while each sport uses football and its success as a recruiting tool, the different colleges across our great campus use football games to enhance their own missions within the framework of Team MSU.
"This is a great time to be a Spartan. There is an overwhelming sense of momentum throughout the entire athletics department, as everyone strives to accomplish great things. With gifts like those from Tom and Lupe, and others that are sure to follow, we can accomplish even greater things."
Spartans football coach Mark Dantonio also expressed his happiness with his good friend's gift.
"Tom and Lupe Izzo are great ambassadors for Michigan State University, and they believe in the role intercollegiate athletics play in the educational experience," said Dantonio. "As we all know, Tom has a tremendous passion for football, and we're extremely grateful for his family's financial support. He has been and will continue to be a great leader and role model for all Michigan State coaches."