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Michigan State, Oakland both lose volleyball coaches in same day


East Lansing – Cathy George, the winningest coach in Michigan State volleyball history, announced her retirement on Friday.

George’s career spanned 35 years, including the last 17 at Michigan State, as she compiled a 667-457 record overall and a 302-233 mark with the Spartans. She also coached at North Dakota State, Texas-Arlington and Western Michigan before coming to Michigan State.

In 1989, she led Texas-Arlington to a Final Four appearance, becoming the first female head coach to do so at the Division I level. In her career, George took teams to the NCAA Tournament 15 times, including 10 trips at Michigan State.

“The decision to retire after 35 seasons as head coach including the last 17 at Michigan State is an incredibly emotional one,” George said. “Coaching is an extremely rewarding profession, watching student-athletes develop and excel beyond their own expectations is amazing. But coaching is a demanding profession which requires an incredible amount of energy and focus. As I went through some self-evaluation this offseason, I realized I had to do what was best for my family and for the program. 

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 “Although my time is done as head coach, I will forever be a Spartan and I can leave smiling because I know the future is bright for Michigan State volleyball.”

Michigan State said it will conduct a national search to find George’s replacement.

“Today is a day to celebrate Cathy George and all that she’s accomplished in her storied career,” athletic director Alan Haller said. “We are so appreciative of all she’s given not only to Michigan State Athletics, but to the game of volleyball and women’s sports overall. She was a trailblazer as the first woman to coach in the Final Four, and continued to be an example for head coaches in the Big Ten and nationally throughout her career. She, along with her husband Jerry, and sons T.J. and Conner, have been great members of our Spartan Family, and we all wish her great happiness in retirement.”

Oakland's Beam steps down

It was a day of change in more than one volleyball program in the state as Oakland University coach Rob Beam announced his resignation after 15 years leading the Golden Grizzlies.

"While it has been one of the great joys of my life to be the head volleyball coach at Oakland University," Beam said, "I have decided to step away from the program to pursue other opportunities both in and out of volleyball, as well as dedicate more time to be with my family."

Beam took over the volleyball program in 2007 and led Oakland to its first-ever Horizon League Championship in 2014. In his 15 seasons, Beam compiled an overall record of 222-207 (.517) and 137-107 (.561) in conference play. 

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau