Blog Entry

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics

Posted on: October 10, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 6:24 pm

By Matt Norlander, cross-posted from Eye on College Basketball

Spartans fans probably thought the best gift coach Izzo could have given to the program -- outside of all those Final Fours and a national title -- was passing up the Cleveland Cavs job in 2010.

But Izzo has done them better, in a very different, very tangible way. He and his wife have donated a jaw-dropping $1 million to the university. This kind of gift is commonplace amongst lofty boosters who like to show their roll without hesitation. But a coach? Michigan State is calling the donation unlike any of its kind from a head coach to an athletics department, perhaps in American collegiate sports history. He has essentially given the university a huge chunk of his paycheck back.

My question: Is this tax deductible?

“We’ve been blessed to be a part of the Michigan State family for nearly 30 years,” Izzo said in a statement. “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.

The 56-year-old Izzo (seen above with Racquel, left, Lupe, and Sparty during 2010's Midnight Madness), has a 383-161 record at Michigan State and has won six Big Ten championships, which matches his six Final Fours. Yet basketball isn't receiving the lion's share of this unique act of coaching charity. Izzo's donating a big portion -- the largest portion -- of the money to football.

“Supporting the football team was an easy decision," Izzo said. "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.”

With such a big sum given, there's room to spread the wealth to every athletic program at the university, plus scholarships endowments will be included. Even the marching band will feel some cheddar pushed into their back pockets.

“By making a financial contribution to the football program, the Izzo family is not only benefitting all 25 sports, but the entire university," AD Mark Hollis said. "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."

How about this completely outsider, uninformed hypothesis, though: I wonder if Izzo's actions signal some sort of odd first step toward him leaving the program. I'm not saying it's happening at the end of this year, or the next, but what moves a man to do something like this if he isn't looking back at his time and beginning to reflect on that? Izzo's become MSU basketball, and sure he's only 56, but is it possible he's thinking about putting his final fingerprints on the school as an active coach in the next five years?

I'd love to be wrong, because college basketball needs coaches like Tom Izzo to stick around for as long as they bring his breed of energy and enthusiasm to the sport.

Unbelievable Photo: AP

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 11:30 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: May 28, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 4:30 pm

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics

After reading this story, it seems to me that the NBA has something to learn from Coach Izzo. The guys in the NBA are after every dollar they can get, and we have a coach appreciating what he has gotten by giving back. If only everyone was this charitable. I know Coach Izzo makes quiet a bit more money per season than this, but still he seems to have a big heart for giving back. I respect Coach Izzo more than I used to after this gesture. NBA players take note, you might need to look at Coach Izzo and get some pointers in realizing how lucky you guys are for being able to do something you love and make the kind of money that you do.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:44 pm

Carte Blanche

Oops.  It's "carte blanche."  I wish we could edit our posts after posting them here.  I know it would be easier to do it right the first time, but typos happen, and there is no "squiggly red line" function for misspelled words here.
Oh, well.  The point is still the same: Tom Izzo no longer has carte blanche concerning instate recruiting. 

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:40 pm

Buying back his mojo for $1 million...

Tom Izzo's Cavalier Indulgence cost him the respect of his own locker room last year.  The players played like they were playing for someone who would abandon them at the sound of an NBA phone call.  This donation is a very clever move on Izzo's part.  He wants his "Spartan for Life" mojo back.  

Sadly for Izzo, a very great part of his mojo was being able to dominate instate recruiting by simply saying "Fab Five Scandal" to the parents of every recruit for whom he was competing with Michigan.  Even though only one of the Fab Five actually was found to have taken money, Izzo used the scandal to gain carte blance in what used to be a very fertile basketball state, and it got him a National Championship.   Ironically, he now has just as many as Steve Fisher does.  

In this era, his old routine is stale.  Michigan's coach headed the ethics committee.  Michigan, especially in the Detroit and Flint araes, has lost a lot of population due to relocation.   Tom Izzo now has less instate talent to recruit and more competion for it.  Izzo has been to a lot of Final Fours, but he has only closed the deal once.  He has a reputation as a great coach, but I can't help but feel that a truly elite coach could have gotten more than one National Championship out of the personnel Izzo has had.  
Now, we are going to find out just how good of a coach Tom Izzo really is.  My guess is that the "Izzone" is going to continue its transition toward being the "Isn't-zone." 

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: October 11, 2011 8:24 am

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics

@RealTalkIowa... just one thing... put down the drink and step away from the bar!  If this happened in Iowa it would definitely be noteworthy as it would constitute about 20% of the state's entire GNP.  LOL

As for the article, the only thing that came to mind, other than Izzo is a class guy, is what it would take for a guy like Calipari to do this.  My guess, he would donate the $1M but ONLY IF the school agreed to buy him another home of equal or greater value OR that it was negotiated in his next contract that an additional $1M be placed in a fund to pay for all of his personal and professional lawsuits!  LOL

Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: October 10, 2011 10:57 pm

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics

I doubt it is a publicity stunt, and it certainly wasn't "cheap". A million dollars is still a lot of money.

Since: Jun 13, 2011
Posted on: October 10, 2011 7:48 pm

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics

Just another cheap publicity stunt from Izzo.  If this were Iowa, it wouldn't even be noteworthy.

squeaks the pupate gnat of the higher being upon whose waste he wishes he could feed.

Since: Sep 2, 2011
Posted on: October 10, 2011 7:23 pm

Izzo donates $1 million to Michigan St. athletics

Just another cheap publicity stunt from Izzo.  If this were Iowa, it wouldn't even be noteworthy.  

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