Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Coach Rick Majerus, the man behind the Utah team that made it to the 1998 NCAA final and the successful basketball program at St. Louis University, died of heart failure Saturday. He was 64.
Majerus led the Utes to the NCAA final but lost to Kentucky after leading by 10 at the break. He also coached the Utes to an Elite Eight finish and two other trips to the Sweet Sixteen.
He resigned at Utah in the middle of the 2003-04 season due to health concerns and worked as an analyst at ESPN for three years before taking the head coaching job at Saint Louis University.
In August, the university announced that Majerus would be taking a leave of absence this year due to health problems. Two weeks ago, the university announced that Majerus would not return as the Billikens coach due to his declining health.
“On behalf of the entire Saint Louis University community, I wish to extend our deepest sympathies and our prayers to Rick’s family and friends during this very difficult time,” said University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J.
“Tonight we join the rest of the basketball world in sending our condolences to Rick Majerus’ family and friends,” said Saint Louis director of athletics Chris May. “Coach Majerus put his heart and soul into the Billiken program, and for that we will be eternally grateful.”
St. Louis interim coach Jim Crews said “nobody loved basketball and teaching kids more than Rick”.
“His passion for the game and the coaching profession was unparalleled. Rick was a true friend and was always there when needed. I, along with so many others, am going to miss him,” Crews added.
Majerus coached the Billikens from 2007-12. In 25 years as a collegiate head coach, he posted an overall record of 517-216. In five seasons at SLU, the Billikens went 95-69.
During his five years as SLU’s head coach, Majerus put the men’s basketball program back on the map. Last season, he guided the Billikens to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, SLU’s first NCAA appearance since 2000.
In addition, the Billikens topped Memphis in the second round for their first NCAA Tournament win since 1998. Saint Louis entered the national polls for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
Majerus took 12 teams to the NCAA Tournament and four to the NIT during his illustrious career. Majerus has reached the 20-win plateau 15 times, including two seasons with 30 wins.
Utah also expressed sadness over Majerus’ passing.
“All of us in the University of Utah community are deeply saddened,” Utah director of athletics, Chris Hill said in a statement. “Rick left a lasting legacy at the University of Utah, not only for his incredible success and the national prominence he brought to our basketball program”.