Former Saint Louis U. men’s basketball head coach Rick Majerus has passed away.
Multiple media outlets have reported that Majerus died at 3:30 p.m (PST) of heart failure in a California hospital.
Majerus, 64, had been in California undergoing evaluation for a serious heart condition that forced him to take an indefinite leave of absence in late August. On Nov. 16, it was announced that Majerus would be unable to return to Saint Louis.
“Tonight we join the rest of the basketball world in sending our condolences to Rick Majerus’ family and friends,” SLU director of athletics Chris May said. “Coach Majerus put his heart and soul into the Billiken program, and for that we will be eternally grateful.”
SLU interim head coach Jim Crews, who replaced Majerus in August, reflected upon Majerus’ passion for coaching, as well as their friendship.
“Nobody loved basketball and teaching kids more than Rick. His passion for the game and the coaching profession was unparalleled,” said Crews. “Rick was a true friend and was always there when needed. I, along with so many others, are going to miss him.”
During his career, Majerus established himself as one of the brightest coaching minds in college basketball while compiling a 517-216 record.
Majerus began his college coaching career at Marquette U. as an assistant in 1971 before taking over as head coach in 1983. After three years as Marquette’s head coach, Majerus had a brief stint in the NBA as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks. He spent two years as head coach at Ball State U. before moving to U. Utah in 1989.
Majerus helped revived a middling Utah program, reaching the NCAA tournament in ten of his twelve full seasons as head coach. The apex of his Utah tenure came in 1998 when he led the Utes to the NCAA Tournament final, losing a heartbreaking contest to the University of Kentucky.
Majerus’ time at Utah was marked by multiple health issues. He missed the bulk of the 1989-1990 season after undergoing heart surgery, and coached only one game of the 2000-2001 campaign before taking a personal leave.
Eventually, Majerus’ health problems led to his resignation in 2004. Later that year, Majerus accepted the head coaching job at U. Southern California, but resigned five days later, once again citing health concerns.
“I wanted this job so bad I was in denial where my health actually is,” Majerus said at the time.
Majerus spent three years as an ESPN studio analyst from 2004-2007 before being hired as SLU’s head coach on April 27, 2007.
Majerus helped return the Billikens to national relevance, collecting a 95-69 overall record. Last season, Majerus led the Billikens to their first appearance since 2000, reaching the third round before falling to Michigan State U.
Majerus was widely respected for his coaching acumen and off-court personality. Friends, colleagues, fans and players have expressed sadness for his passing and admiration for his actions both on and off the court.
“Majerus was a teacher and a thinker, an insatiable intellect and a fearless one. In a world full of passers-by on the highway of life, Majerus was never along for the ride,” Dana O Neil, ESPN college basketball writer, said.