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Izsp.jpg Hear the Conversation 33:22 – 19.1 mb mp3

“I looked at taking my team to the Big Ten football title game as a team-building exercise,” Spartans basketball coach Tom Izzo tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis in a wide-ranging conversation. “And I wanted my team to see what it takes to win a championship.”

Simon, Hollis and Izzo reflect on the hiring process in 2006 that led to the hiring of Mark Dantonio as MSU head football coach.

“What resonated with me as the process began was President Simon saying ‘don’t pick who you want, pick what you want,’” says Hollis. “It was really about fit.”

The close relationships and unity between the coaches throughout Spartan athletics is unusual, points out President Simon.

“There’s a bond here that if we ever lose that, that’s the day I hope I walk out the door because it’s special,” adds Izzo. “One of my biggest joys in this job is helping my fellow coaches with recruiting. And I have the privilege of working with an accessible president and an innovative AD.”

President Simon says “I’m the president for college sport for the 99 percent. Because 99 percent of our student athletes are there for a mixture of being a student and using athletics as a vehicle for expressing their passion, for continuing to hone their leadership skills, for engagement and the opportunities to do a lot of different things, and to enrich their college experience.

“The one percent of student-athletes that gets all the attention isn’t the definition of college sports. And the more we let the media, donors and others see college sport through the eyes of the one percent, the more we lose the high ground for college sports.”

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