Former MSU athletics director Kearney dies at 83

EAST LANSING, MI – Joe Kearney, who saw Michigan State win the national men's basketball championship and 11 Big Ten titles while serving as athletics director from 1976 to 1980, has
died. He was 83.

Michigan State's athletics department says in a statement that Kearney died Wednesday at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., after an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Kearney came to Michigan State after serving seven years as athletics director at the University of Washington. He hired Jud Heathcote, who coached the Spartans to the 1979 NCAA basketball championship, and Ron Mason, who went on to become the winningest
coach in college hockey history.

Kearney served as commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference from 1980 to 1994.

Survivors include Kearney's wife Dorothea, five children and 11 grandchildren.