YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Eastern Michigan has hired Stan Heath as its new men's basketball coach.

The 56-year-old Heath, an EMU alum, returns to the Mid-American Conference. He was previously the coach at Kent State, leading that program to the Elite Eight in 2002. He also guided Arkansas to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 and 2007 and did the same at South Florida in 2012.

EMU announced the hiring Monday.

“I’m thrilled to return to my alma mater as the head men’s basketball coach,” Heath said. “Eastern Michigan is a special place for me and my family. ... Our goal is to win Mid-American Conference championships and be a perennial NCAA team.”

Rob Murphy, EMU's previous coach, was hired last month as president and general manager of the Detroit Pistons’ G League affiliate.

Heath was an assistant at Bowling Green before joining Tom Izzo's staff at Michigan State. His five-year tenure there included a national championship in 2000.

“Stan was one of the first and best hires I made when I became the head coach at Michigan State and he was an assistant on our national championship team and went to three straight Final Fours," Izzo said. “He was a big part of helping to build our program to what it is today.”

Heath's most recent position was head coach of the Orlando Magic’s G League affiliate. He took over that role in 2017.

“We are so thrilled to welcome back Stan Heath as our new head men’s basketball coach,” EMU athletic director Scott Wetherbee said. “One of the key messages I heard throughout the search process was the desire to find someone with Eastern Michigan connections as well as someone with a strong head coaching pedigree. In hiring Coach Heath, we absolutely have that person."

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