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Michigan State women’s hoops coach Suzy Merchant steps down

Syndication: Lansing State Journal

Michigan State’s head coach Suzy Merchant calls out to players during the third quarter in the game against Wisconsin on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at the Breslin Center in Lansing. 230111 Msu Wisconsin W Bball 063a

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Suzy Merchant 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.

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.”