Merchant, who never had a losing season in 16 seasons at Michigan State and only one in the 12 years at previous stops, coached some of the greatest players in program history, including three WNBA first-round draft picks in Aerial Powers (Detroit), Tori Jankoska (Saginaw) and Nia Clouden.
She formed a close bond with men's coach Tom Izzo, with daily talks en route to the office.
Months before the start of the 2022-23 season, Merchant signed a new five-year contract that was to pay her at least $880,000 a year, a raise of more than $200,000. The contract took her out of the bottom of the Big Ten in compensation. The team ended up going 16-14 this season, and on Sunday turned down an invitation to play in the WNIT. A program spokesperson cited the adversity-filled year on and off the court — dealing with Merchant's absence, as well as the emotional toll of the deadly shooting on campus — in skipping the WNIT