Jud Heathcote, who coached Michigan State to NCAA title, dies at 90

— -- Jud Heathcote, who led? Michigan State?and Magic Johnson to the 1979 NCAA championship, has died. He was 90.?

The school says Heathcote died Monday in Spokane, Washington.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo was hired by Heathcote and was promoted to replace him when he retired in 1995.

Heathcote won three Big Ten titles and appeared in nine NCAA tournaments during his 19-year career at Michigan State. He got his start as a head coach in college at Montana in 1971.

His overall record was 416-277 (.600), and his teams made 10 NCAA tournament appearances, including winning it all in 1978-79.

Izzo says the basketball world is a sadder place because of his mentor's death, adding no one cared more about the welfare of the game than Heathcote.?

"The basketball world is a sadder place today with the passing of Jud Heathcote," Izzo said. "No one cared more about the welfare of the game than Jud. He was a coach's coach and a mentor to many. Our hearts are filled with sadness and deepest sympathy for his wife Beverly and the Heathcote family.

Izzo helped the Spartans win their second NCAA basketball title in 2000 and often leaned on Heathcote for advice, counsel and humor.

"Without a doubt, he was one of the most influential people in my life, giving me a chance when no one else would. Any coaching success I've ever had is because of him. Long after he left Michigan State, he was still one of the first people I would call when I had a tough decision in coaching or life."

After he left coaching and moved to Spokane, Heathcote embraced the luxuries of retirement.

He enjoyed golf -- he lived across the street from his county club -- at some of the area's top courses. He also played handball with a group of friends -- postgame beers were common -- until his mid-70s, when his health began to fade.

He said he needed time to grow comfortable with the adjustment.

"The first couple years [of retirement], I'd go to games and I'd sit there and second-guess the coaches on why they were doing this or weren't doing this," he told ESPN in 2014. "I think it was kind of a hard transition."

But he also remained tied to the coaching fraternity.

For years, he had a monthly lunch date with Gonzaga coach Mark Few at Jack & Dan's, a Spokane bar formerly owned by Jack Stockton, the father of Utah Jazz legend John Stockton.

Throughout his retirement, Heathcote attended the bulk of Gonzaga's home games and watched Michigan State's matchups on TV. Heathcote said Izzo allowed him to remain connected to the program, even when he was challenged by his successor.

"I was always a good Monday morning quarterback in football and basketball," Heathcote said three years ago. "I'd sit there and second-guess Tom [Izzo], naturally. We talked every week during the first couple of years [of retirement]. Every since then, I probably talk to him every two weeks now. Tom has kept me involved in the program. He calls and asks my opinion on what we're doing. I'm still kind of a Spartan coach far removed."

Three years ago, Heathcote also told ESPN that retirement hadn't diminished his passion for basketball.

"It's different," Heathcote told ESPN about his retirement. "I don't think you ever take the coaching out of the coach. I think you adjust to your situation and that's what, maybe, I've done."

ESPN's Myron Medcalf and The Associated Press contributed to this report.