Longtime Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant stepping down due to health reasons after 16 seasons

Longtime Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant is stepping down due to health reasons, the program announced Monday.

Merchant has led the Spartans for 16 seasons.

“After much consideration and consultation with my healthcare providers, I have come to the difficult decision that it is in my best interest [to step down],” Merchant said in a statement, in part. “I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the entire Michigan State community, including the administration, faculty, and staff. I have had the privilege of coaching some of the most talented and dedicated young women in the country.

“The opportunity to mentor, lead, and empower young women has been the honor of a lifetime. Over my 28 years as a head coach and the last 16 years at MSU, I have been blessed to work with incredible assistant coaches as well as staff members that have shared the love of the game, mentoring young women, and were passionate about the Green and White. I am truly grateful to each of you for your time, energy, and dedication to our program. Much admiration and love to you all.”

Merchant took over at Michigan State in 2007 following a nine-season run at Eastern Michigan, where she won two regular-season MAC titles and reached the NCAA tournament once.

While with the Spartans, Merchant compiled a 327-186 record and reached the NCAA tournament 10 times. They won the Big Ten regular-season title twice (2011 and 2014). Merchant was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2011, and MSU reached the Sweet 16 in 2009.

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Michigan State went 16-14 under Merchant this season, and did not make the tournament.

Merchant will be replaced by Dean Lockwood on an interim basis while the program looks for a new head coach.

Suzy Merchant won a pair of Big Ten titles and reached the NCAA tournament 10 times during her time at Michigan State.
Suzy Merchant won a pair of Big Ten titles and reached the NCAA tournament 10 times during her time at Michigan State. (David Berding/Getty Images)

"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 in a statement. "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."