Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo pleads: Get vaccinated for COVID-19

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State was set to hold its first practice on Tuesday, but coach Tom Izzo had more than lineups and rotations on his mind.

Meeting with the media Tuesday morning, the first in-person session the men’s basketball coach has had since the end of the 2019 season, Izzo implored everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine while also urging Spartan fans to support all of Michigan State’s teams this fall, beginning with Saturday night’s football game when the 17th-ranked Spartans host Western Kentucky at Spartan Stadium.

Michigan State head men's basketball coach Tom Izzo is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

It was the idea of vaccines, though, that Izzo hit hard.

“I’ve been through a lot of things in my life,” Izzo said, “and I am encouraging, pleading and begging people to get vaccinated. … I think it’s so important because I don’t think it’s only about ourselves, I think it’s about the person next to you.” 

Izzo and his team, as well as teams around the country, are coming off a season that was played largely without fans and included multiple shutdowns as players dealt with positive tests. Izzo contracted the virus last November, returning just before the regular season began.

Now, with the vaccine available, things are starting to get back to normal, but with plenty of folks holding off on the vaccine, there is still uncertainty heading into a new season and Izzo sees the effect on his team, something that goes beyond the basketball court.

“It kind of has hit me hard as I look at how we get back on track, not only as a country, but here at Michigan State,” Izzo said. “You can learn and get answers from textbooks, or virtual classrooms, but students are missing out on the flow of their exchange of ideas, their learning in person. I'm sick of Zoom and I'd like to thank a number of our professors that are actually holding classes. I'd like to plead with some of our professors that aren't.

“I know this is controversial, and everything else, but I got kids that have never been in the classroom since they've come to college. I think that's sad. I don't think it's right, and I think part of the problem is because we won't all get vaccinated, we're not helping each other. So it's not just about vaccination and for me to stay safe. It's the people next to me to help me stay safe.”

Izzo said his entire program — players, coaches, office staff, etc. — has been vaccinated and if there is a booster coming, they’ll get that, too.

“It’s good that we're starting to come back,” Izzo said. “I would encourage everybody to please get vaccinated, please. Listen to the best medical people, not the social-media experts that are putting garbage out there.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau