Amo Bessone, who coached Michigan State to the 1966 national championship as part of 28 years leading the Spartans, has died in New Mexico. He was 93.
He coached 814 games behind the Michigan State bench, second only to Ron Mason’s 974. He started in 1951 and retired in 1979 with a 367-427-20 record at MSU.
Related link: Amo Bessone coaching history
In 1966, the Spartans were 4-9 at midseason but went 12-4 in their last 16 games, beating Michigan and Michigan Tech in the postseason for an NCAA spot. MSU beat Clarkson 6-1 in the title game.
“I’m saddened by Amo’s passing for sure, but I was thrilled to know him as a young coach and continue that relationship as I joined the Michigan State program,” Michigan State coach Rick Comley said in a statement. “Amo is part of that group of coaches who made NCAA hockey what it is today … he, Murray Armstrong, John MacInnes, John Mariucci. He also impacted the Michigan State program in so many ways, not the least of which is a commitment to being involved in the community, which continues today. He is a legend, and he will be missed.”
Bessone is credited with helping the Greater Lansing Amateur Hockey Association get off the ground by donating used MSU equipment and encouraging his players to help coach youth hockey.
“We are saddened by the loss of a true Spartan,” Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said. “Amo Bessone was a part of the fabric not only of the Michigan State athletics program, but also the surrounding community. He was dedicated to our athletes as well as growing the sport he loved so much. His influence on the game of college hockey and on the Michigan State hockey program is one we cherish, and will continue to honor.”
Said Mason: “This is a big loss for all of us connected to him. Our thoughts go out to his family, and we are all greatly saddened by this loss. He is the true father of MSU hockey — he built this program, making the best of what he had when he first got here. Even after he left, he continued to support it after he retired.”
Before joining the Spartans, Bessone coached Michigan Tech for three seasons, posting a 20-31-2 record.
Born Nov. 22, 1916, Bessone was raised in West Springfield, Mass. He attended West Springfield High School and played at Hebron Academy and the Kent Hills School in Maine. He earned his undergraduate degree at Illinois in 1943, where he lettered in baseball in addition to hockey.
He moved onto an AHL career, but that was cut short due to his service in World War II.
He began his coaching career at Westfield (Mass.) High in 1946, and made his move into the college ranks at Michigan Tech two years later. He spent three seasons at the helm of the Husky program (1948-51) before signing on at Michigan State in the fall of 1951.
Bessone was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and Michigan State’s Hall of Fame in 1992.
Arrangements are pending.