[breslin] As students, walking quickly through campus every day, trying to be on time for this class or that appointment, it\’s often too easy to ignore the names on many of the buildings we pass. But a lot of these names, mounted in bold letters on brick, carry the memory of an individual\’s accomplishments. In its history of more than 150 years, MSU has been graced with a number of influential people, who once walked the streets of East Lansing like so many of us have, both as students and leaders. We know these names based on their corresponding buildings, categorized by cross-street or labeled clearly on a map, or from extensive media coverage. These men – Jack Breslin, Jud Heathcote and John A. Hannah – are a select group of Spartans who have shaped MSU and its sports program into what it is today.
Breslin
MSU is nationally known for its rich basketball tradition. From the days of Earvin \”Magic\” Johnson to Mateen Cleaves, hoops has often been the focus of MSU athletics. With this spotlight comes the necessity for superior facilities, including the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. As an MSU student, Jack Breslin juggled academics with his uncommon and challenging role in the athletics realm as a three-sport athlete. Breslin earned letters in football, basketball and baseball, and also served as a captain of both the football and baseball team. Breslin had a distinguished 38-year administrative career at MSU, and he was one of the first to suggest the creation of a multi-purpose student facility; this facility was completed in the summer of 1986 and given his name. The arena can sit more than 16,000 people and features the Izzone, arguably one of the loudest student sections of the college basketball scene.
\”You get a indescribable feeling when you walk into the Breslin Center and see so many students going crazy for their basketball team,\” psychology sophomore Ashley Herbst said. \”The arena that Mr. Breslin created is like a home to an entire MSU community who comes to cheer with you through the good and the bad. I don\’t think there is a better feeling in the world than when I walk into the Breslin Center for a basketball game.\”
[jud]The Breslin Center has also played host to a series of great basketball teams, led by equally revered coaches. While head coach Tom Izzo has been running the ranks for the past 12 years, he learned some of his techniques and approaches to the game from one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history, Jud Heathcote.
Heathcote
Heathcote was a head coach for 24 seasons, including five at the University of Montana. Heathcote is most well-recognized for coaching the 1979 national championship Spartan team, led by Magic Johnson. After that, MSU was officially on the college basketball map; it has remained that way today because of the precedent set by Heathcote. His track record at MSU consists of 340 wins – he is the school\’s all-time leader in number of victories. Heathcote was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year twice, has won three Big Ten championships and one national championship. However, these statistics do not completely give credit to Heathcote as an influential Spartan; they simply add fuel to the idea that he has shaped the program into what it stands for today.
\”Jud pretty much symbolizes MSU basketball and everything that started our program out on the right path is because of him,\” human resources junior John Merrill said. \”Izzo is the man, but it\’s because of Jud that MSU was and currently is a college basketball powerhouse. Because of him, we have a program that all of us students can be proud of and brag about to our friends at other schools.\”
Hannah
[john]There are a select few MSU alumni who can say they have a building named after them at their former university. However, there are even fewer who claim a building and a previous term as university president. As the 12th person in this role, John A. Hannah served as MSU\’s president for 28 years and played a huge role in the expansion – which is still going – of MSU\’s student body. During his tenure as president, the university grew from just more than 6,000 students to a population of nearly 40,000. The academic curriculum was updated, and a number of programs were added to the course offerings, including a medical and international program. Hannah is also responsible for the creation of the Spartan Roundtable, a place where students could express their feelings and concerns about their school. Hannah would listen to student and faculty complaints and concerns and do what he could to address them in a direct manner.
The letters \”MSC\” are written on a giant smoke stack that overlooks Spartan Stadium. Those letters stand for \”Michigan State College,\” which is all MSU was before the arrival of Hannah – a college. Hannah fought hard during his reign as president to convince the Big Ten Conference to recognize Michigan State College as a member, and in 1955, \”MSC\” transformed to MSU. The Hannah Administration building was built and named in honor of Hannah\’s hard work and dedication to the university.
\”He\’s the guy that really got this university to what it is today,\” MSU historian Michael Unsworth said. \”The man specialized in poultry and yet because of him, Michigan State grew rapidly during his presidency.\”
[hannah]Hannah also was responsible for the growth of big-time intercollegiate athletics at MSU. He was appointed to MSU\’s Board of Agriculture in 1935, and he helped plan the construction and expansion of many athletic facilities. The football stadium was enlarged to 29,000 seats, a baseball practice field was created and Jenison Field House was constructed. According to Unsworth, Hannah was responsible for the establishment of athletic scholarships at MSU. The money for these scholarships was provided in honor of the great Fred Jenison and covered tuition, books and room and board. Athletes were required to maintain a \’C\’ average in classes in order to keep their scholarship offer. This idea brought a number of highly talented athletes to MSU, knowing they could play top-level athletics and have their education paid for.
\”It\’s fascinating to know that one person was single-handedly responsible for so many great places and sports here at MSU,\” international relations junior Brien Baumgartner said. \”I can appreciate places like Jenison Field House a lot more now that I know its history and who was responsible for creating such a renowned building.\”
[smoke] Under the ranks of Hannah, MSU established itself as a university with the rapid growth of the student body. However, he was not alone in shaping MSU. Without Breslin\’s contributions, and perseverance, he would not have earned the nickname \”Mr. MSU,\” and the eye-catching basketball facility would not exist in Breslin\’s name. The reason so many MSU students fill these seats is because of MSU\’s basketball tradition, which started with Heathcote\’s coaching practices. Heathcote brought a winning style of basketball to East Lansing, which has carried today. Take pride in the campus – you can bet anything these three men did.

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