March 13, 2023 

Michigan State’s Suzy Merchant stepping down as head coach

Merchant led the Spartans for 16 seasons, won two Big Ten titles.

Michigan State athletics announced in a release on Monday night that director of athletics Alan Haller and women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant mutually agreed that Merchant will step down, effective immediately.

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Dean Lockwood, the associate head coach who assumed head coaching duties in late January after Merchant suffered a medical incident that led to a car accident, was named the interim head coach as the Spartans conduct a search to fill the position.

In 16 seasons leading the program, Merchant compiled a 327-186 record, leading the Spartans to Big Ten titles in 2011 and 2014 and 10 NCAA tournament appearances, including a Sweet Sixteen trip in 2009.

“We are grateful to Coach Suzy Merchant for her contributions to Michigan State women’s basketball and Spartan athletics over the last 16 seasons,” Haller said in the release. “We appreciate everything Coach Merchant has meant to our community. Her two Big Ten titles and 10 NCAA Tournament appearances provided lasting memories. Beyond the team’s on-court success, she invested considerable time and energy into our local community as a leader and a role model for young people.”

Merchant coached three Spartans who later became first-round WNBA draft picks: Aerial Powers (2016), Tori Jankoska (2017) and Nia Clouden (2022).

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce I am stepping down from Michigan State University due to health reasons. After much consideration and consultation with my healthcare providers, I have come to the difficult decision that it is in my best interest. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the entire Michigan State community, including the administration, faculty, and staff.

“I have had the privilege of coaching some of the most talented and dedicated young women in the country. The opportunity to mentor, lead, and empower young women has been the honor of a lifetime.  Over my 28 years as a head coach and the last 16 years at MSU, I have been blessed to work with incredible assistant coaches as well as staff members that have shared the love of the game, mentoring young women, and were passionate about the Green and White. I am truly grateful to each of you for your time, energy, and dedication to our program. Much admiration and love to you all.”

Written by Eric Rynston-Lobel

Eric Rynston-Lobel has been a contributor to The Next since August 2022. He covered Northwestern women's basketball extensively in his four years as a student there for WNUR and now works as a sports reporter for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire.

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