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Michigan State head coach Merchant steps down, citing health

Aaron J. Thornton / Getty Images Sport / Getty

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Suzy Merchant has stepped down as Michigan State's women's basketball coach, citing health concerns.

“After much consideration and consultation with my health care providers, I have come to the difficult decision that it is in my best interest,” Merchant said in a statement released by the school on Monday.

The 53-year-old Merchant had not coached the Spartans since she was in a one-car crash after a medical incident in late January. Six seasons ago, she fainted and collapsed onto the court during a game and doctors later discovered she had a heart abnormality.

Associate head coach Dean Lockwood, who filled in for Merchant this season, will serve as the team's interim coach while the school searches for a new leader for the program.

Merchant had a five-year rollover contract with a base salary of $700,000.

The 2011 Big Ten coach of the year won two Big Ten titles, earned 10 NCAA Tournament bids and reached the Sweet 16 in 2019. She was 327-186 over 16 seasons with the Spartans and 528-306 overall, including her records at Eastern Michigan and Saginaw Valley State.

Merchant, who is from Traverse City, was a four-year starter and three-time captain for Central Michigan's basketball team.

“I would like to extend a special appreciation to (former athletic director) Mark Hollis and (former school president) Dr. Lou Anna Simon for giving a small-town kid from Northern Michigan the chance of a lifetime to live my dream as a Spartan,” Merchant said. “I’m eternally grateful."


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