MSU Board of Trustees approves naming gyms after Akers, Heathcote

Contact: Terry Denbow, Vice President for University Relations, (517) 355-2262, denbow@msu.edu

Dec 07, 2001

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State University Board of Trustees at its Dec. 7 meeting approved the naming of expanded gymnasiums in the Jack Breslin Student Events Center honoring two individuals who played prominent roles in MSU athletics.

In recognition of a $1 million gift from the Forest Akers Trust, the new auxiliary gymnasium in the Alfred Berkowitz Basketball Complex will be named "The Forest Akers Trust Gymnasium."

A newly renovated auxiliary gymnasium in the expanded Breslin Center will be called "The Jud Heathcote Gymnasium," in recognition of major gifts and pledges totaling $951,000 honoring the former MSU head men's basketball coach for his contributions to MSU athletics.

"The generosity of our donors will help Michigan State University remain in the forefront," said MSU President Peter McPherson. "It is fitting to acknowledge Jud Heathcote and the late Forest Akers who contributed so much of their time and talents to this university."

"These gifts not only recognize the accomplishments and legacies of the honorees but the contributions made by other individuals who have also chosen to honor their accomplishments through their donations," said MSU Provost Lou Anna K. Simon. "These gifts will help serve the needs of student-athletes, coaching staff and other students at MSU."

As part of the expansion of the Breslin Center, the existing 9,000-square foot auxiliary gym on the mezzanine level was renovated to help sustain MSU's basketball program.

The new 9,000-square foot auxiliary gym, directly south of the existing gym, will allow both the men's and women's teams to practice without conflicts with classes. The gym will also provide off-season practice space for the women's volleyball team and summer sports camps, as well as additional event space for use by the Breslin Center staff.

For 19 seasons George "Jud" Heathcote helped many young MSU Spartans reach their full potential, both on and off the court. He won more games than any other coach in the history of MSU men's basketball and took the Spartans to the NCAA National Championship in 1978-79.

The Forest Akers Trust was founded by Forest Akers, MSU alumnus and former MSU trustee. Prior to his death in 1966, Akers assured his legacy by giving the university its two 18-hole championship courses and by establishing the Forest Akers Trust to support faculty, staff and students at MSU and Oakland University (a branch of MSU at the time).

The basketball complex is named after the late Alfred Berkowitz, a business leader, U.S. Army veteran and pharmacist from southeast Michigan, whose private foundation has pledged more than $2 million toward the project.

QUOTES ON THE NAMING OF NEW GYMS HONORING AKERS, HEATHCOTE:

"With the newly renovated and additional auxiliary gymnasium, Michigan State has what is to me the best set of basketball facilities in the nation. It's certainly appropriate for the gyms to be named after two people who have made significant contributions to MSU athletics. It's extra special to have one named for Jud Heathcote, who has been so important to my development and success as a coach."

--Tom Izzo, MSU head men's basketball coach

"The entire facility and gymnasiums put Michigan State in a unique position to attract tremendous student-athletes. The gyms symbolize the commitment to basketball at MSU and set us apart from several other schools. It is with great pride that we can sell the university, facility and academics along with such great support by the administration."

--Joanne P. McCallie, MSU head women's basketball coach

"It is very rewarding to witness the true Spartan spirit reflected in gifts from individuals and the Forest Akers Trust. These gifts continue the legacy of Forest Akers and Jud Heathcote at MSU as we move forward with the capital campaign."

--Charles Webb, vice president for university development