Michigan State Spartans

The Michigan State Spartans are the athletic teams that represent Michigan State University. The school's athletic program includes 23 varsity sports teams. Their mascot is a Spartan warrior named Sparty, and the school colors are green and white. The university participates in the NCAA's Division I-A and in the Big Ten Conference in all Varsity sports except ice hockey, which competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Michigan State offers 11 varsity sports for men and 12 for women.

The university's athletic director is Mark Hollis, who was promoted to the position on January 1, 2008. Hollis replaced Ron Mason, who served as head hockey coach from 1979 to 2002, retiring with a 608–261–64 record at MSU.

MSU's football team has won or shared six national championships in 1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965, and 1966, and has won the Rose Bowl in 1954, 1956, and 1988. Its men's basketball team won the NCAA National Championship in 1979 and 2000. The MSU men's ice hockey has won national titles in 1966, 1986, and 2007. MSU's golf team won the Big Ten Championship in 1969 and again in 2005.


In 1925, the institution changed its names to Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, and as an agricultural school, its teams were referred to as the Aggies. Looking to move beyond its agricultural roots, Michigan State held a contest to find a new nickname. They decided to call the teams the "Michigan Staters". Local sports writers for the Lansing State Journal and the Capital News went through the losing entries to find a shorter and more heroic name. They decided on the "Spartans". By coincidence, Justin Morrill had once compared the Land Grant colleges to the schools of ancient Sparta. With a heroic name and a historic precedent, the "Spartans" quickly caught on as the teams' new nickname. Within a few years, the College changed the lyrics of the Fight Song to reflect the name change of the College and its sports teams.

Rose Bowls
1954   Michigan State   28     UCLA   20
1956   Michigan State   17     UCLA   14
1966   UCLA   14     Michigan State   12
1988   Michigan State   20     Southern California   17

As the college grew in size, it looked to join a major collegiate conference. When the University of Chicago eliminated varsity football and withdrew from the Western Conference (now the Big Ten) in 1946, Michigan State president John A. Hannah lobbied hard to take its place. Despite opposition from the University of Michigan, the Big Ten finally admitted M.S.C. in 1949. After joining the conference, head football coach Clarence L. "Biggie" Munn led the Spartan football team to the Rose Bowl in the 1953–54 season, beating UCLA 28–20. Successor coach Hugh "Duffy" Daugherty carried the football team to a second Rose Bowl where it again defeated UCLA, 17–14.

In more recent years, Michigan State's successes and failures in the Final Four have resulted in clashes involving the police in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Local and national news referred to the disturbances as riots. After several years without any major incidents, another disturbance broke out on April 2, 2005 after the North Carolina's men's basketball team defeated MSU in the 2005 NCAA Final Four. Officially called a "civil disturbance," the ensuing violence sparked accusations of police brutality in East Lansing.

Varsity sports

Michigan State has 23 NCAA Division I-A varsity teams: 11 varsity sports for men and 12 for women. They participate in the Big Ten Conference in all sports except ice hockey, which competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.


Retired Basketball Jerseys
Number Player Years

4 Scott Skiles 1982–1986
12 Mateen Cleaves 1996–2000
21 Steve Smith 1987–1991
24 Johnny Green 1955–1958
24 Shawn Respert 1991–1995
31 Jay Vincent 1978–1981
32 Greg Kelser 1976–1979
33 Earvin "Magic" Johnson 1977–1979
Coach Jud Heathcote 1976–1995
MSU's men's basketball team has won the National Championship twice: in 1979 and 2000. In 1979, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, along with Greg Kelser, Jay Vincent, and Mike Brkovich, carried the MSU team to a 75–64 win against the Larry Bird-led Indiana State Sycamores. In 2000, three players from Flint, Michigan, Morris Peterson, Charlie Bell, and Mateen Cleaves carried the team to its second national title. Dubbed the "Flintstones", they were the key to the Spartans' win against the University of Florida.

On December 13, 2003, Michigan State and Kentucky played at the most-attended basketball game in history, when they played a match in front of 78,130 at Ford Field, a stadium in Detroit. Kentucky won 79–74. Since 1995, Michigan State has been coached by Tom Izzo, who has a 300–120 record. Izzo's coaching helped the team make four of nine NCAA Final Fours from 1999 to 2007, winning the title in 2000. Michigan State basketball has been selected for ten consecutive NCAA tournament bids from 1998 to 2007, making four final fours during that span. Overall, Michigan State has made it to the final four six times and has made 23 NCAA Tournament appearances.

Spartans formerly or currently in the NBA include Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Greg Kelser, Jay Vincent, Steve Smith, Scott Skiles, Jason Richardson, Mateen Cleaves, Alan Anderson, Zach Randolph, Morris Peterson, Eric Snow, Charlie Bell, Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager and Paul Davis

MSU also has a women's basketball team. Suzy Merchant took over as head coach in 2007, and replaced Joanne P. McCallie who left MSU to coach for Duke University. Before coming to Michigan State, Merchant spent nine years as head coach of Eastern Michigan University's team, where she won the most games in the school's history. During the 2007–2008 season, the team won more games, 23, than any other Big Ten team.


Football has a long tradition at Michigan State. Starting as a club sport in 1884, football gained varsity status in 1896. Michigan State is often referred to the country's "football factory", especially during the 1950s when Detroit was the world's leading automobile manufacturer. During that time, the Spartans had a roster of impressive players, including Lynn Chandnois, Dorne Dibble, and Don McAulliffe. In 1951, the Spartans finished the season undefeated, and performed the same feat the following year in addition to the nation's longest winnig streak of 24 games. The team was named the "undisputed national champions by every official poll".

After waiting for several years, the team was finally admitted into the Big 10 as a regular member in 1953. They promptly went on to capture the league championship (losing only one game during the season) and beating UCLA in their first Rose Bowl game. After the 1953 season Biggie Munn, the legendary Spartan coach, turned the team over to his protégé and future legend Duffy Daugherty. He won the Rose Bowl in 1954 and 1956. George Perles was the head coach when the Spartans defeated USC in the Rose Bowl in January 1988. All told, Michigan State has won or shared six national championships (1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965 and 1966) and nine Big Ten championships.

Today, the football team competes in Spartan Stadium, a renovated 75,005 person football stadium in the center of campus. The coach is Mark Dantonio, who was hired on November 27, 2006. Dantonio had an 18–17 record in his three year tenure at the University of Cincinnati, including a 1–0 Bowl Game record. Dantonio replaced John L. Smith, who finished with a 22–26 record as the Spartans' head man.

MSU's traditional archrival is the University of Michigan, against whom they compete for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. MSU is traditionally the underdog, with a 28–66–5 record in the annual game. Michigan State is one of three Big Ten teams to have an annual non-conference football game against Notre Dame. MSU's record against the Fighting Irish is 25–44–1. One of the most memorable games in this series was in 1966 when the teams were ranked first (Notre Dame) and second (MSU) in the country. The result of the game was a 10–10 tie when Notre Dame elected not to attempt a score when they had the ball late in the game.

On the American Football League's All-Time Team are tight-end Fred Arbanas and safety George Saimes. In the National Football League, MSU alumni include Morten Andersen, Plaxico Burress, Andre Rison, Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, T.J. Duckett, Flozell Adams, Julian Peterson, Charles Rogers, Jim Miller, Earl Morrall, Wayne Fontes, Bubba Smith, and Drew Stanton. Former MSU quarterback Jeff Smoker now plays in the Arena Football League.


Michigan State has two varsity hockey teams: a men's ice hockey team and a women's field hockey team. Rolf van de Kerkhof is the head coach of the women's field hockey team. A native of Tilburg, Netherlands, van de Kerkhof's first win as head coach came on September 3, 2006, with a 2–1 overtime victory against Temple University.

The men's ice hockey team plays at the Munn Ice Arena. The head coach is Rick Comley, who has a 116–73–19 record at MSU. Since the Big Ten Conference does not cover Division I ice hockey, Michigan State competes in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Along with the University of Michigan (U-M) and the Ohio State University, it is one of three Big Ten schools in the CCHA.

On October 6, 2001, the team was involved in the most-attended hockey game in history: The Cold War. The Spartans set up a hockey rink in the middle of their football stadium, Spartan Stadium and played U-M before a crowd of 74,554. The game ended in a 3–3 tie.

The MSU ice hockey program has seven CCHA regular season championships and 11 CCHA Tournament titles. MSU has also won 11 Great Lakes Invitational titles. The Spartans have been in the NCAA tournament 23 times, with nine Frozen Four appearances and three national titles (1966, 1986, and 2007). On April 7, 2007 the Michigan State Spartans won their third Collegiate Championship by beating the Boston College Eagles 3–1.

Former Michigan State players in the National Hockey League include Rod Brind'Amour, Anson Carter, Donald McSween, Adam Hall, John-Michael Liles, brothers Kelly Miller and Kip Miller, as well as their cousins, brothers Ryan Miller and Drew Miller. Two players for MSU have won the Hobey Baker Award: Kip Miller in 1990 and Ryan Miller in 2001.

Other sports

MSU has a number of other team sports. As in many other NCAA institutions, Michigan State has a baseball team for men and a softball team for women. David Grewe is head coach of the MSU baseball team. Hired at age 29, Grewe is one of the youngest head coaches in the nation. Former Michigan State players in Major League Baseball include Kirk Gibson, Steve Garvey, Robin Roberts, and Mark Mulder. The MSU women's fastpitch softball team won the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Division I national title in 1976. Its coach, Jacquie Joseph, has headed the program since 1994. Since taking over the program, Joseph has helped bring MSU to a record of 445–372–1 and four NCAA Regional appearances. The Spartans also have a men's soccer team, which won two back-to-back championships in 1967 and 1968. They shared the 1968 title with the University of Maryland, College Park. The men's coach is Joe Baum, who is in his 31st year as head coach at Michigan State. Coaching the women's team is Baum's former assistant, Tom Saxton. There is also a volleyball team; Cathy George has been the head coach of the women's volleyball team since 2005. During her first year at Michigan State, she led her team to a 12–18 record, including a 5–15, ninth-place finish in the conference standings.

There are a number of contact sports at MSU, including boxing and wrestling. MSU's boxing team won national titles in 1951 and 1955, although it is no longer an NCAA varsity sport. Wrestling was one of the earliest sports formed at the Michigan Agricultural College. While the sport was dropped in 1906, it was reformed by the college 15 years later. The school's wrestling team has won the NCAA Division I championship once, in 1967. Its current coach, Tom Minkel, has produced 33 All-Americans, 11 Big Ten Champions and one NCAA Champion.

Water sports at MSU include rowing and swimming. MSU's women's rowing crew coach is Matt Weise. In his third year as MSU head coach, Weise coached the Spartans to a program-best sixth-place team finish at the NCAA Championship. Matt Gianiodis is the head coach of both the men and women's swimming and diving. In his four years as head coach, Spartan swimmers and divers have broken 14 varsity records.

Other sports at MSU include cross country, golf, gymnastics, and tennis. MSU's Men's cross country team won the NCAA Division I championship eight times from 1939 to 1959. Walt Drenth is the current director of both the men's and women's cross country and track & field programs. After joining MSU in 2004, Drenth led men's cross country team to an NCAA Championship bid during the 2004 season. The women's cross country team also advanced to the NCAA Championship Meet after winning the Great Lakes Regional race.

Golf has had a long tradition at MSU. Hall of Fame Coach Bruce Fossum helped carry MSU to its first Big Ten title in 1969. The Big Ten title would elude the Spartans until 2005, when arguably, the best team ever assembled, took home the rings in stellar fashion. Not only did the Spartans win the Big Ten Championship in 2005, but they captured two other titles along the way and rose all the way to #5 in the U.S. Sam Puryear coaches the men's golf team. A former assistant coach at Stanford University, this is his first year as a head coach. Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll coaches the women's team. In the last ten seasons, she has brought the Spartans to nine straight NCAA regional appearances.

The men's gymnastics team at MSU won one national title, which they shared with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1958. In 2001, the MSU Board of Trustees disbanded the team in order to comply with Title IX regulations. The women's team retained its varsity status. Its coach is Kathie Klages, who has had 16 winning seasons in a row. In 2008, the team ranked 17th in the nation in the final season standings, the highest placement in program history.

Gene Orlando is the coach of the men's tennis team. In his 17 years as MSU head coach, Orlando has taken the Spartan men to four NCAA Championship singles qualifiers. Coaching the women's team is Erica Perkins, a second-year head coach who, in her first year, led the Spartan women to a 12–11 record (2–8, Big Ten.)

See also


External links

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