DETROIT (AP) - Tom Izzo vowed he would be a “lifer” at Michigan State after turning down a chance last summer to coach in the NBA.
Michigan State just made life a lot more comfortable for Izzo.
Izzo’s newly amended contract gives him a $500,000 raise _ increasing his annual compensation to $3.49 million _ and use of a private plane for up to 25 hours each year for personal use. It comes just a few months after Cleveland tried to lure him to coach in the NBA.
“Tom Izzo provides so much value to the state of Michigan and to Michigan State that coming up with his true value is difficult,” athletic director Mark Hollis said Thursday. “What we wanted to do was make sure he’s among the highest-paid coaches in the nation because I would say he is the best coach in college basketball.
“If Tom Izzo had left the state, it would’ve been like LeBron James leaving Cleveland _ it would’ve been a blow _ because he’s one of our icons who is from here and stayed here.”
Izzo, who grew up in Iron Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has worked in East Lansing since 1983 and was promoted from assistant to head coach in 1995. Since then, he’s won a national championship and six Big Ten titles.
He’s led the Spartans to six of last 12 Final Fours, accomplishing a feat that only the late John Wooden at UCLA and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski have done.
Hollis said last week’s raise ended a process that began several months ago.
The second-ranked Spartans are off to a 2-0 start and are about to find out just how good they are.
Michigan State will play in next week’s Maui Invitational, where it might face No. 12 Kentucky, and has games in December on top-ranked Duke’s home court and against No. 10 Syracuse in Madison Square Garden.
Izzo is making close to as much as the highest-paid coaches in college basketball.
Kentucky’s John Calipari is making an average of $4 million a year. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski was paid more than $3.6 million two years ago and Florida’s Billy Donovan gets an average of $3.5 million annually. Louisville restructured Rick Pitino’s deal, which was paying him $2.5 million a year, and paid him a $3.6 million loyalty bonus. After winning the NCAA title in 2008, Bill Self signed a 10-year, $30 million contract with Kansas.
“We value Tom and his time,” Hollis said. “He often has family commitments and university commitments at the same time, and this will allow him to fulfill both obligations and not skip a beat for his family or for the school.”