'This virus is no joke': Michigan State's Tom Izzo back on the job after bout with COVID-19

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
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Tom Izzo is back, and his return comes just as Michigan State is getting set to begin the 2020-21 season.

The Spartans coach tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 9 and immediately self-isolated at home. On Monday, the school announced that Izzo was back in the basketball offices after observing practices on Friday and Saturday.

Tom Izzo

No. 13 Michigan State is scheduled to tip off the season against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday at the Breslin Center.

“I want to thank the medical staff and doctors at Michigan State who helped me over the last two weeks since I tested positive,” Izzo said in a statement. “Our front-line workers during this time have been so essential, and I have a great appreciation for those people and what they have done to fight this disease during this time. While some people who have tested positive have not been affected too much by it, I am here to tell you that this virus is no joke and everyone must take this seriously.”

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Izzo met with the media over Zoom twice during his time off, first to discuss his positive test and then when Michigan State signed its 2021 recruiting class two days after Izzo’s positive results. Since then, Izzo has been dealing with the illness while associate head coach Dwayne Stephens has been running practices with the help of assistants Dane Fife and Mike Garland.

“It was hard for me to be away from my team and our players, but I also understood the challenges associated with this virus and the need for me to isolate and follow proper protocol to ensure that I was healthy enough to return to work,” Izzo said. “I want to thank Dwayne Stephens for leading our team over the last two weeks and to the entire coaching staff and our support staff for their hard work and dedication.

“I’ve stayed in touch with my players as much as I could, but I am looking forward to seeing them in person today. I was really impressed with the hard work they have put in during this time. We are all looking forward to the start of the season.”

After Michigan State opens with Eastern Michigan on Wednesday, it hosts Notre Dame on Saturday to round out the first week of the season. Three games are up next week as the Spartans head to No. 9 Duke on Dec. 1 before hosting Detroit Mercy on Dec. 4 and Western Michigan on Dec. 6. The nonconference season wraps up with a trip to No. 4 Virginia on Dec. 9 and a home game with Oakland on Dec. 13.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau

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