Spokane, WA (Minnesota News Network) - Longtime Michigan State basketball coach Jud Heathcote, who guided the Magic Johnson-led team to the national championship in 1979, died Monday in Spokane, Wash., at age 90.

Heathcote battled a number of ailments that that kept him from returning to East Lansing in his later years.

With Johnson as the star, the Spartans beat Larry Bird and Indiana State 75-64 in a classic NCAA championship game matchup in Salt Lake City. It is still the highest-rated college basketball game in television history.

Heathcote led Michigan State to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances and three Big Ten titles during his 19 years as coach.

Overall, Heathcote compiled a 416-277 record for a .600 winning percentage during his college career. The North Dakota native was the head coach at Montana before coming to Michigan State, where he went 339-221.

Current Spartans coach Tom Izzo was hired by Heathcote as an assistant and succeeded him in 1995.

“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.”

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