Majerus in the 1977–78 season as Marquette assistant coach
|Born||February 17, 1948|
Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin
|Died||December 1, 2012 (aged 64)|
Los Angeles, California
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1986–1987||Milwaukee Bucks (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Tournaments||19–12 (NCAA Division I)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|NCAA Regional—Final Four (1998)|
MAC regular season (1989)
MAC Tournament (1989)
6 WAC regular season (1991, 1993, 1995–1997, 1999)
3 WAC Tournament (1995, 1997, 1999)
2 MWC regular season (2000, 2003)
|5× WAC Coach of the Year (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999)|
Richard Raymond 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 runners-up in the 1998 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
Majerus was the son of Raymond Majerus, an American labor leader. 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 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 University for two seasons where he had a record of 43-17 during that span. He also led the team to the NCAA tournament in the 1988-89 season. That 1988-89 team holds the record for best men's basketball won-lost mark (29-3) in Ball State University history. He definitely had Ball State's program on the upswing before his departure to Utah in 1989.
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."
Majerus left the team after the opening game of the 2000-01 season to rehabilitate his right knee. He had every intention of returning after the first week of 2001, but was hospitalized on New Year's Day 2001 after complaining about chest pains. Later in January 2001, Majerus announced that he would sit out the rest of 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, 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 to 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. His tenure at SLU got off to a rocky start; in their first conference game, the Billikens set an NCAA Division I record for fewest points scored in a game in the modern era of college basketball, losing 49-20 to George Washington. However, as he had done previously at other programs, Majerus eventually made SLU a winning program. 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
For years, Majerus battled health problems due to obesity. 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; this prevented 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 that 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 had 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 (2013–2018)
- 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 (2002–2015)
- Alex Jensen: Canton Charge (NBA D-League, 2011–2013)
- 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 (NCAA Division I independent) (1983–1986)|
|1983–84||Marquette||17–13||NIT Second 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 Division I Second Round|
|Ball State:||43–17 (.717)||22–10 (.688)|
|Utah Utes (Western Athletic Conference) (1989–1999)|
|1990–91||Utah||30–4||15–1||1st||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|1991–92||Utah||24–11||9–7||T–4th||NIT Third Place|
|1992–93||Utah||24–7||15–3||T–1st||NCAA Division I Second Round|
|1994–95||Utah||28–6||15–3||1st||NCAA Division I Second Round|
|1995–96||Utah||27–7||15–3||1st||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|1996–97||Utah||29–4||15–1||1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|1997–98||Utah||30–4||12–2||1st||NCAA Division I Runner-up|
|1998–99||Utah||28–5||14–0||1st||NCAA Division I Second Round|
|Utah Utes (Mountain West Conference) (1999–2004)|
|1999–00||Utah||23–9||10–4||T–1st||NCAA Division I Second Round|
|2001–02||Utah||21–9||10–4||2nd||NCAA Division I First Round|
|2002–03||Utah||25–8||11–3||T–1st||NCAA Division I Second Round|
|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 Runner-up|
|2011–12||Saint Louis||26–8||12–4||2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|Saint Louis:||95–69 (.579)||44–36 (.550)|
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
- Vander Hill, C. Warren (2003). Ball State Men's Basketball 1918-2003. p. 88.
- "USA Basketball - Oops, 404 Error!". Archived from the original on November 26, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- 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
- "Majerus to Sit Out Season Because of Mother's Health". latimes. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "His 2 loves doing just fine". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "His 2 loves doing just fine". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "MAJERUS SAYS HE'S SERIOUS ABOUT MARATHON". DeseretNews.com. 5 June 1991. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- 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". Archived from the original on April 5, 2007.
- Forbes.com Saint Louis Hires Coach Rick Majerus Archived August 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Alyce Majerus Obituary - Milwaukee, WI - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- Held, Kevin. "Rick Majerus to sit out 2012-13 season with health issues". Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 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.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Memorial Service Today for Rick Majerus". slubillikens.com. Retrieved April 8, 2016.