MSU hires Okemos native Robyn Fralick as women's basketball coach

Robyn Fralick replaces Suzy Merchant, who stepped down amid health issues.

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Robyn Fralick is coming home.

Fralick, a native of Okemos, has been named the new head women's basketball coach at Michigan State, replacing Suzy Merchant, who stepped down earlier this month amid health problems.

Fralick comes from Bowling Green, where she led the program for five seasons. The Falcons made the postseason each of the last three seasons, including the WNIT this year, falling in the Final Four to Columbia, 77-70, on Wednesday. Fralick met with her team Friday afternoon, according to reports, before Michigan State made the announcement. She will become the sixth head coach in Michigan State women's basketball history.

"My family and I are so grateful for this new journey," Fralick said in a statement. "It is an honor to return home to East Lansing to join the Spartan community. "I would like to thank the Bowling Green community for wrapping their arms around my family and the BGSU women's basketball squad for giving their best, every day.

Robyn Fralick, an Okemos native, is taking over the Michigan State program from Suzy Merchant.

"Thank you to Alan Haller and the hiring committee at Michigan State for this amazing opportunity. Spartan women's basketball has great tradition and an extremely loyal and supportive fan base. It's truly one of the elite programs in the Big Ten and the country, with everything that's necessary to develop student-athletes and compete at the highest level. We will work tirelessly to pursue excellence on and off the court and build a culture and team built on togetherness and toughness. We're excited to get to work!" 

Fralick coached at Division II Ashland for 10 seasons, three as head coach, winning two national championships — one as head coach — before taking over a down Bowling Green program.

After a tough first two seasons, Bowling Green went 21-8 in 2020-21 to win the regular-season Mid-American Conference championship, and play in the WNIT. She was MAC coach of the year that season.

The Falcons were 17-16 last season, playing in the WBI, before going 31-7 this season.

She was 88-73 at Bowling Green (69-31 the last three seasons) and 104-3 at Ashland. Her time at Ashland featured the best winning percentage in NCAA history at any level, with a minimum of 100 games.

Fralick played collegiately at Davidson, finishing fourth in program history in assists and eighth in steals while earning a bachelor's degree. She later earned a master's from Western Michigan, when she was on staff there.

She's also was an assistant coach at Appalachian State and Toledo.

"Although she grew up in our community and we couldn't be more excited to bring her home, it's important to note that she's respected nationally," Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller said in a statement. That became evidently clear throughout this process during conversations with individuals throughout the women's basketball community. Michigan State women's basketball is a program with a strong foundation both within our department and our community. I'm excited to watch Robyn and her team compete at the Big Ten and national level as the program continues to grow."

Like Merchant before her — Merchant was at Eastern Michigan before landing the Michigan State job, which she oversaw for 16 seasons — Fralick comes from the MAC.

Fralick's entire coaching staff at Bowling Green is made up of Michigan natives: Alpena's Kim Cameron, Rapid City's Maria Kasza and Port Huron's Joel Whymer.

Fralick, who also excelled in soccer and softball at Okemos High School and is in the school's Hall of Fame, takes over a Michigan State program that has stumbled a bit the last two seasons amid injuries, missing the last two NCAA Tournaments after making the NCAA Tournament in 10 of the previous 12 seasons.

The Spartans were 16-14 this past season, with Merchant missing the last month-plus after suffering an undisclosed medical episode that led to a minor, one-car accident. Merchant stepped down March 13, saying with a "heavy heart," she needed to focus on her health. Dean Lockwood was the interim head coach in her absence.

Already this offseason, Michigan State has lost one of its best players to the transfer portal, sophomore guard Matilda Ekh from Sweden. She averaged 11.8 points this season.

Fralick, 41, is married to husband Tim, a former Oakland player, and the couple has two children, Will and Clara. Fralick will be formally introduced at a press conference in East Lansing next week.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984