ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – Tom Izzo, who recently was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, is adding another award to a growing list of honors as the Michigan State coach.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association announced today it has selected Izzo to receive this year’s Dean Smith Award, given annually to an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values of the late North Carolina coaching great.
The USBWA will present Izzo with the Dean Smith Award at a Spartans’ home game to be announced at a later date.
Izzo is the second person to receive the Dean Smith Award. The USBWA established the award last year and selected former Georgetown coach John Thompson as the first recipient.
The award recognizes coaches for more than just their success in basketball. “We wanted to honor Coach Smith for the life he led and the lives he touched,” said past USBWA president John Feinstein, who had the idea to establish the award. “Coach Smith would be very proud to have Tom’s name on the award in his honor.”
Among the qualities in a coach that the award is based on are honesty and integrity, being a part of players’ lives during and after college, abiding by NCAA rules, involvement in charities and the community, standing up for social issues and causes and having a reputation for treating people with respect.
“Tom Izzo represents everything the Dean Smith Award stands for,” USBWA president Ed Graney said. “Coach Izzo’s distinguished career and commitment to excellence represent the standards for which this award is defined, qualities Coach Smith held as paramount in making an impact on the lives of players on and off the court.”
Izzo has a history of community involvement and humanitarian work.
In 2013, he received the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award, named in honor of the late Oklahoma All-American, for having made a significant and positive impact on society and for serving as an active volunteer in the community.
Izzo has been involved in raising funds for Coaches vs. Cancer, Volunteers of America and the V Foundation for Cancer Research. In 2009, Izzo was presented with the Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award for his work and leadership in the fight against cancer.
In 2009, the USBWA presented Izzo with the association’s Good Guy Award for accessibility and his relationship with the media.
Izzo is also known for helping his players be successful students and maintaining a relationship with them after college. He has achieved a graduation rate of over 80 percent for players who have completed their eligibility.
“He calls or texts me all the time to see how things are going,” Golden State Warrior All-Star Draymond Green said. “He cares about us as people and helping us grow as human beings. I don’t think you get that kind of relationship with most coaches at other schools.”
Under Izzo, Michigan State has become one of the most successful basketball programs in the country. Izzo led the Spartans to the 2000 NCAA championship, the 2009 national championship game, seven Final Fours, seven Big Ten regular-season titles, five Big Ten tournament championships and 19 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Now in his 22nd season at Michigan State, Izzo is the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten Conference.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season.