May God Bless Gus, A Great Spartan From Start To Finish

May God Bless Gus, A Great Spartan From Start To Finish

Basketball

May God Bless Gus, A Great Spartan From Start To Finish

Michigan State lost a great Spartan today – Gus Ganakas passed away at the age of 92. The former Spartan head basketball coach was the first part of a three-headed trio of head coaches who are responsible for the foundation, success, growth, and greatness of a program that is among the very best in the nation.

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I agree with what a lot of people have suggested out there today – Gus Ganakas might not get the credit he deserves for all that he did for Michigan State over the course of a wonderful, important, and full life that, sadly, came to a close today.

Gus passed away at the age of 92 and if I’m able to have even a fraction of the positive impact Gus had on even a fraction of the amount of people he had that positive impact on in my own life, I’ll have lived a great life.

Gus Ganakas is one of three men to have been the steward of the Michigan State basketball program dating back to 1969.

He started what is among the greatest stretches of consistency and greatness in all of college basketball.

Gus led the Spartans from 1969 to 1976 and he finished with a career mark of 89-84 but his contributions to Michigan State basketball – and Michigan State University – were only starting when Jud Heathcote took over the reigns of the program.

The man was as much of a Spartan as a man can be.

He taught and coached basketball at East Lansing High School, winning the 1958 state championship with an undefeated season.

In 1964, he became the coordinator of the Ralph Young Fund, the precursor to what is now the Spartan Fund.

Gus spent 31 years as a radio analyst on the Spartan Sports Network.

From 1976 to 1998, he served as an assistant athletics director at Michigan State, the school he graduated from in1950 after serving as a United States Marine.

From 1998 until 2000, Gus helped out Tom Izzo as a special assistant to the program.

In 2002, Gus became the sixth recipient of Michigan State Men’s Basketball Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Gus was Green & White from head to toe and he’s left a wonderful, beautiful mark on the school and university he loved for the duration of his blessed life.

Nobody is better suited to properly pay tribute to everything that Gus did and meant to so many people than Tom Izzo – so, here is Izzo’s official statement that appropriately pays tribute to the great Gus Ganakas –

“Spartan Basketball has lost a dear friend today.  Gus was one of the most selfless and positive people that I’ve ever been around. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ganakas family as they grieve their loss.

“You’ll learn all you need to about Gus when you look at the way he handled being replaced as head coach. Most of us would have wanted our replacement to fail, hoping it would make us look good. But that wasn’t who Gus was. Instead, he made sure that the local high school superstar Earvin Johnson knew that Michigan State was still the right place for him to attend and that new coach Jud Heathcote was the right guy to play for. As they say, the rest is history. But there is no doubt that Spartan Basketball wouldn’t be what it is today without Gus Ganakas.

“Gus would go on to play a major role in any coaching success that I’ve enjoyed. Early on, he was on my staff and provided a great sounding board for a first time head coach. Throughout most of my career he also served as the analyst on our radio broadcasts, where he could always find the good in our performances, and tried his best to cheer me up despite how upset I might be.

“But most importantly, Gus has helped build the family atmosphere within Michigan State basketball. The connection between our past and our present is the best of any program in the nation because of Gus. Former Spartans from all eras feel connected to the current team, and much of that credit goes to Gus.

“We will all miss Gus … his smile and his sense of humor. He’s been a bright light to my entire family, from both my parents to my wife Lupe and children Raquel and Steven. But his impact on the entire Spartan family will continue to live on. And if there are ever tough times in heaven, they now have the perfect guy to make everyone feel just a little bit better.”

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