Suzy Merchant has stepped down as coach of the Michigan State women's basketball team, citing health concerns.
Merchant, 53, had not coached the Spartans since she was in a one-car crash after a medical incident in late January. Six seasons ago, she fainted and collapsed onto the court during a game and doctors later discovered she had a heart abnormality.
In early February, Merchant said in a statement that she was focusing on her health and well-being. But the school officially announced Monday that she will not return.
"It is with a heavy heart that I announce I am stepping down from Michigan State University due to health reasons," Merchant said in a statement. "After much consideration and consultation with my healthcare providers, I have come to the difficult decision that it is in my best interest. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the entire Michigan State community, including the administration, faculty, and staff."
Merchant took over the program in 2007 after previously serving as the head coach at Saginaw Valley State and Eastern Michigan in her home state.
She finishes with a 327-186 record at Michigan State and an overall college coaching mark of 528-306. The 2011 Big Ten coach of the year, Merchant led the Spartans to 10 NCAA tournament appearances and two Big Ten titles, in 2011 and 2014 (co-champs).
"We are grateful to Coach Suzy Merchant for her contributions to Michigan State women's basketball and Spartan Athletics over the last 16 seasons," athletic director Alan Haller said. "We appreciate everything Coach Merchant has meant to our community. Her two Big Ten titles and 10 NCAA Tournament appearances provided lasting memories. Beyond the team's on-court success, she invested considerable time and energy into our local community as a leader and a role model for young people."
Associate head coach Dean Lockwood, who filled in for Merchant this season, will serve as the team's interim coach while the school conducts its search for a new program leader. The Spartans finished the 2022-23 season at 16-14 overall, with a 7-10 mark in conference play.
Merchant had a five-year rollover contract with a base salary of $700,000.
"I have had the privilege of coaching some of the most talented and dedicated young women in the country," Merchant said in her statement. "The opportunity to mentor, lead, and empower young women has been the honor of a lifetime."
Among the top players to play under Merchant at Michigan State were Aerial Powers, Tori Jankoska and Nia Clouden, all first-round WNBA draft picks.
The Michigan State coaching opening is the second in the Big Ten, after Lindsay Whalen stepped down from Minnesota on March 2.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
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