EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Gus Ganakas, coach of the Michigan State Men's Basketball Team from 1969 to 1976, stayed in the sports department until his retirement in 2000, and died. He was 92 years old.
The state of Michigan said Ganakas died on Friday.
"Gus was one of the most selfless and positive people I've ever known," said Tom Izzo, the current coach of the men's basketball program. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ganakas family in mourning for their loss."
Ganakas became an assistant coach at Michigan State in 1966. After being named head coach three years later, he rose to 89-84 in seven seasons. Jud Heathcote succeeded him and coached the Spartans to a national title in 1979, with Magic Johnson in the lead.
"You will learn everything you need about Gus by looking at how he has been replaced as a head coach," Izzo said in a statement. "Most of us would have liked the failure of our replacement, hoping that it would make us look good. But that was not what Gus was. Instead, he made sure that local high school superstar Earvin Johnson knew that the state of Michigan was still the right place for him and that his new coach, Jud Heathcote, was the right player. As they say, the rest belongs to history. "
Ganakas was deputy sports director from 1976 to 1998 and assistant to Izzo from 1998 to 2000. He also spent more than 30 years as a Michigan men's basketball voice, as a color commentator .
"For 20 seasons, we've been broadcast partners – a partnership that would become one of the greatest friendships of my life," said Will Tieman, a play-by-play announcer from 1992 to 1996 and since 2002. " You could not help but think of something else. love Gus. He was really one of the biggest of the biggest generation. "
Born in Mount Morris, New York, Ganakas earned a Bachelor of Physical Education from the state of Michigan in 1949 and a Master's degree in the same field in 1950. He traveled to the state of Michigan after serving in the US Navy during the Second World War.
Before becoming an assistant basketball coach, Ganakas was the coordinator of the Ralph Young Fund, known today as the Spartan Fund. In 2017, the prize of the most valuable player of the State of Michigan, as voted by the players, was named in his honor.
"Gus has helped create a family atmosphere within Michigan State Basketball," said Izzo. "The connection between our past and our present is the best of all programs in the country thanks to Gus. The old Spartans of all ages feel connected to the current team, and much of this merit goes to Gus. "