Legendary college basketball coach and favorite to everyone who knew him, Rick Majerus has died of heart failure at the age 64 after his recent decline in health. The official cause of death hasn’t yet officially been released but Majerus had taken a medical leave of absence at the St. Louis University as recently as August.
Majerus started his career at Marquette where he coached from 1983 until 1986 when he took a job at Ball State. Majerus lasted only two years there but after the ball State gig, he took his most famous job as the head coach of the University of Utah.
It was at Utah that Majerus saw his best years as a coach and made an even bigger name for himself. During his 15 years at Utah he won 323 games, and in 1998 he took the team on a miraculous run to the National Championship game where he and his squad eventually lost to Kentucky and Tubby Smith. He left the school in 2004 to tend to his health and he became an analyst with ESPN.
He infamously took a big job at USC in 2004 but he resigned 5 days later in a bizarre and somber press conference in which he referenced his poor health as the reason he couldn’t accept the job any longer.
At the height of his popularity in the early 2000s Majerus was a name just about everyone wanted, and many believe that if he wanted it he could have coached in the NBA. Majerus had coached in the NBA before in the late 80s but only as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks. He was rumored to have drawn interest from such teams in the college ranks as Texas, Minnesota, UCLA, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Arizona, St. John’s and UNLV to name just a few.
He also turned out more than a few coaches and players who have gone on to have coaching careers of their own using his model and teachings. Porter Moser has since become the head coach of Loyola University, Jeff Judkins who is the coach of the women’s BYU basketball team and Alex Jensen who both played for Marjeus at Utah and coached under him at Saint Louis.
There’s no question that the coaching legend will be missed and it goes without saying that his impact on the game may not have been on a massive level in terms of stats but is impression is no doubt with us all.