Majerus in the 1977–78 season as Marquette assistant coach.
February 17, 1948|
Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin
|Died||December 1, 2012
Los Angeles, California
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1986–1987||Milwaukee Bucks (asst.)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|MWC Regular Season Championship (2003)
WAC Tournament Championship (1995, 1997, 1999)
WAC Regular Season Championship (1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999)
MAC Tournament Championship (1989)
MAC Regular Season Championship (1989)
|WAC Coach of the Year (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999)|
Richard Raymond "Rick" Majerus (February 17, 1948 – December 1, 2012) was an American college basketball coach. He coached at Marquette University (1983–1986), Ball State University (1987–1989), the University of Utah (1989–2004), and Saint Louis University (2007–2012). Majerus' most successful season came at Utah in the 1997–98 season, when the Utes finished as NCAA national runners-up.
Majerus graduated from Marquette University High School in 1966 and then attended Marquette University, where he tried out as a walk-on in the 1967 season. He did not play for Marquette, but stayed on as a student assistant. He graduated in 1970 with a degree in history. He began coaching eighth-graders at St. Sebastian Grade School in Milwaukee, then coached freshmen boys at Marquette University High School. He was an assistant coach with the Marquette Warriors (now Golden Eagles) for 12 years under mentor Al McGuire, until 1977, and under Hank Raymonds until taking over as head coach in 1983. After three years as head coach at Marquette, and a 56-35 record, he became an assistant coach with the National Basketball Association's Milwaukee Bucks for the 1986–87 season. He coached at Ball State during the 1987–88 and 1988–89 seasons, finishing with a record of 43–17.
Majerus led Utah to the Final Four in 1998, eventually losing to Kentucky in the National Championship Game. He was greatly affected by the loss, and claimed to be able to recite the last six minutes of play of the championship game second by second. While at Utah, he was known for living out of a hotel room, noting that he liked that "There’s clean towels, my bed is turned down every night and there’s a mint on my pillow, no matter what psychological or emotional crisis the maid is going through."
In January 2001, Majerus announced that he would sit out the season to recover from his own health problems and to be with his ailing mother. He handed over the team to assistant Dick Hunsaker, who guided the team to a 19-10 record and an NIT appearance. Majerus then returned to Utah in the fall of 2001.
He left Utah in January 2004 after 15 seasons and 323 victories in part to get control of his health; he underwent seven vessel bypass surgery to his heart in 1989.
Majerus was known to berate and verbally abuse his players. Lance Allred, who wrote about it in his autobiography Longshot, told of his three years at Utah and how Majerus would humiliate him, often targeting his disability—Allred being partially deaf and requiring hearing aids. Allred transferred after the 2001-02 season, but Majerus was later "cleared of any wrongdoing." While at Ball State and Utah, Majerus was considered a serious candidate for numerous major head coaching positions, including UCLA, St. John's, UNLV, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin, San Diego State and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.
On December 15, 2004, Majerus was hired as coach of the University of Southern California basketball team; he was to replace interim coach Jim Saia, who was replacing fired coach Henry Bibby, with Majerus taking over effective April 1, 2005. His contract was scheduled to pay him $5 million over five years.
Majerus gave an energetic and humorous press conference on the day of his hire, but also noted "I hope I die here. I hope I coach here the rest of my life." In order to take the position, he needed to buy himself out of his contract as an analyst for ESPN. However, Majerus unexpectedly resigned only five days later in a somber, and at times weeping, press conference. He apologized to the university and stated that his health and fitness were not yet at a stage where he thought he could perform his new duties, noting "I wanted this job so bad I was in denial where my health actually is [. . .] I realized [USC] wasn’t getting the guy they hired. I came to that conclusion myself. I’m not fit for this job by my standards." Years later, however, Majerus would claim that the true reason for his change of mind had not been his health, but rather had been his mother's request that he not take the job, which would have meant his relocation to Los Angeles, far removed from her home in Wisconsin.
Majerus worked as a game and studio analyst for ESPN from 2004–2007.
Majerus was a fan favorite and cult figure around college basketball, known for his portly, rotund figure and his quirky, jovial personality. He enjoyed bratwursts, a sausage popular in his native Wisconsin.
On April 27, 2007, Majerus accepted the head coaching position at Saint Louis University; his contract was for six years. In 2012, he led the Billikens to their first NCAA Tournament in 12 years, and their first appearance in a major poll in 17 years.
Majerus' mother, Alyce, died on August 6, 2011.
Health and eventual death
Majerus battled health problems for years. He missed all but the first six games of the 1989-1990 season, which was his first at Utah, after undergoing septuple-bypass surgery.
Then, in September 2000, Majerus had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee but didn't follow a doctor's orders to take a break from basketball, preventing his knee from healing properly. On New Year's Day 2001, Majerus complained of chest pains and was hospitalized for one week, prompting him to take the rest of the year off from coaching to devote his energies to his health and also to his ailing mother. He returned to coaching in the fall of 2001.
On August 24, 2012, Majerus announced he would not coach the 2012–13 season due to serious heart problems. Jim Crews, one of his assistants, took over for him on a temporary basis for the 2012–13 season. On November 16, it was announced that Majerus was retiring when it was apparent that his heart condition would not improve enough to allow him to return.
Majerus died of heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital on December 1, 2012. He'd battled heart trouble for most of the time since 1989. Plans for a public memorial service for current and former athletes, coaches, students, and members of the Saint Louis and University community were made by SLU for Friday, December 7, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. at Chaifetz Pavilion on the SLU campus. His private funeral service was in Milwaukee's Church of the Gesu, 1145 West Wisconsin Avenue, on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.
A number of Majerus' assistants and players later became head coaches at the collegiate or professional level.
- Joe Cravens: Utah (1989–1990, interim), Idaho (1993–1996), Weber State (1999–2006)
- Donny Daniels: formerly Cal State Fullerton (2000–2003)
- Scott Garson: College of Idaho (2013–present)
- Dick Hunsaker: Ball State (1989–1993), Hartford Hellcats (CBA, 1993–1994), Grand Rapids Hoops (CBA, 1994–1995), Manchester (1995–1998), Utah (2000–2001, interim), Utah Valley (2002–present)
- Alex Jensen: Canton Charge (NBA D-League, 2011–2013) Utah Jazz (Assistant, 2014–present)
- Jeff Judkins: BYU (women's, 2001–present)
- Porter Moser: Loyola (IL) (2011–present)
- Kerry Rupp: Utah (2004, interim), Louisiana Tech (2007–2011)
Head coaching record
|Marquette Warriors (independent) (1983–1986)|
|1983–84||Marquette||17–13||NIT Second Round|
|1984–85||Marquette||20–11||NIT Third Round|
|1985–86||Marquette||19–11||NIT Second Round|
|Ball State Cardinals (Mid-American Conference) (1987–1989)|
|1988–89||Ball State||29–3||14–2||1st||NCAA Second Round|
|Ball State:||43–17 (.717)||22–10 (.688)|
|Utah Utes (Western Athletic Conference) (1989–1999)|
|1990–91||Utah||30–4||15–1||1||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|1991–92||Utah||24–11||9–7||4-T||NIT Third Place|
|1992–93||Utah||24–7||15–3||1-T||NCAA Second Round|
|1994–95||Utah||28–6||15–3||1||NCAA Second Round|
|1995–96||Utah||27–7||15–3||1||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|1996–97||Utah||29–4||15–1||1||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1997–98||Utah||30–4||12–2||1||NCAA Runner Up|
|1998–99||Utah||28–5||14–0||1||NCAA Second Round|
|Utah:||238–64 (.788)||118–30 (.797)|
|Utah Utes (Mountain West Conference) (1999–2004)|
|1999–2000||Utah||23–9||10–4||1-T||NCAA Second Round|
|2001–02||Utah||21–9||10–4||2||NCAA First Round|
|2002–03||Utah||25–8||11–3||1-T||NCAA Second Round|
|Utah:||85–31 (.733)||34–13 (.723)|
|Utah:||323–95 (.773)||152–43 (.779)|
|Saint Louis Billikens (Atlantic 10 Conference) (2007–2012)|
|2009–10||Saint Louis||23–13||11–5||4th||CBI Finals|
|2011–12||Saint Louis||26–8||12–4||2nd||NCAA Round of 32|
|Saint Louis:||95–69 (.579)||44–36 (.550)|
National champion Postseason invitational champion
*Coached the first six games before undergoing heart surgery. Assistant Joe Cravens coached the rest of the season.
**Coached the first game before taking a personal leave of absence. Assistant Dick Hunsaker coached the rest of the season.
***Coached the first 20 games before retiring due to health concerns. Assistant Kerry Rupp coached the rest of the season.
- WAC Coach of the Year: 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 (media), 1999
- District Coach of the Year (1991, 1993, 1995, 1996)
- Playboy Magazine Coach of the Year (1992, 1998)
- UPI National Coach of the Year (1991)
- Basketball Times National Coach of the Year (1991)
- Utah Sports Person of the Year (1992 and 1997)
- Trademark Sweater Retired and hung from the Rafters at Jon M. Huntsman Center February 2, 2013
- 1994 USA Basketball
- Bill Dwyre, Livin’ Large, if All Too Briefly, With Majerus, Los Angeles Times, December 24, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
- Larry Stewart, He Admits to Just One Big Vice, With Relish, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
- Accessed February 13. 2010
- Lance Allred
- Associated Press, Utah coach cleared of ex-player's allegations, ESPN, January 22, 2004, Accessed January 19, 2010
- Paul Gutierrez, It’s a Feel-Good Story, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
- Paul Gutierrez, Floyd Looks Like a Keeper for Trojans, Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2005, Accessed January 16, 2009
- Bill Plaschke, Laughter Belies a Serious Quest, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
- Mike Terry and Jason Reid, He Just Wasn’t Fit to Be Tied Down, Los Angeles Times, December 21, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
- Bill Dwyre (November 25, 2011). "Rick Majerus tells why he gave up USC job in 2004". Los Angeles Times.
- "Rick Majerus Quotes".
- Forbes.com Saint Louis Hires Coach Rick Majerus
- Held, Kevin. "Rick Majerus to sit out 2012-13 season with health issues". Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- "Majerus takes medical leave at SLU, won't coach 2012-13". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 24, 2012.
- Rick Majerus won't return to SLU. ESPN, 2012-11-16.
- "Rick Majerus, ex-SLU coach, dies at 64". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. December 1, 2012.