Rick Majerus

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Rick Majerus
Rick Majerus in 1978.jpg
Majerus in the 1977–78 season as Marquette assistant coach
Biographical details
Born(1948-02-17)February 17, 1948
Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin
DiedDecember 1, 2012(2012-12-01) (aged 64)
Los Angeles, California
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1971–1983Marquette (assistant)
1986–1987Milwaukee Bucks (assistant)
1987–1989Ball State
2007–2012Saint Louis
Head coaching record
Tournaments19–12 (NCAA Division I)
8–4 (NIT)
3—1 (CBI)
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)
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.[1]

He was an assistant coach under Don Nelson for the US national team in the 1994 FIBA World Championship, winning the gold medal.[2]

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.[3] 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."[3][4]

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,[5] he handed over the team to assistant Dick Hunsaker, who guided the team to a 19-10 record and an NIT appearance.[6] Majerus then returned to Utah in the fall of 2001.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9] Allred transferred after the 2001-02 season, but Majerus was later "cleared of any wrongdoing."[10] 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.[11]

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.[12]

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."[3][13] In order to take the position, he needed to buy himself out of his contract as an analyst for ESPN.[11] 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."[14] 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.[15]

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.[16]

On April 27, 2007, Majerus accepted the head coaching position at Saint Louis University; his contract was for six years,[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]

Health and eventual death[edit]

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.[5]

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.[5] 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,[5] he returned to coaching in the fall of 2001.[7]

On August 24, 2012, Majerus announced he would not coach the 2012–13 season due to serious heart problems.[20] Jim Crews, one of his assistants, took over for him on a temporary basis for that season.[21] 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.[22]

Majerus died of heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital on December 1, 2012,[23] he had battled heart trouble for most of the time since 1989.[22] 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.[24][25]

Published works[edit]

In 2000, he released an autobiography, My Life On a Napkin : Pillow Mints, Playground Dreams and Coaching the Runnin' Utes (ISBN 0-7868-8445-2), co-written by Gene Wojciechowski.

Coaching tree[edit]

A number of Majerus' assistants and players later became head coaches at the collegiate or professional level.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Marquette Warriors (NCAA Division I independent) (1983–1986)
1983–84 Marquette 17–13 NIT Second Round
1984–85 Marquette 20–11 NIT Quarterfinal
1985–86 Marquette 19–11 NIT Second Round
Marquette: 56–35 (.615)
Ball State Cardinals (Mid-American Conference) (1987–1989)
1987–88 Ball State 14–14 8–8 4th
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)
1989–90 Utah 4–2*
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
1993–94 Utah 14–14 8–10 T–5th
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
2000–01 Utah 1–0**
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
2003–04 Utah 15–5*** 3–2
Utah: 323–95 (.773) 152–43 (.779)
Saint Louis Billikens (Atlantic 10 Conference) (2007–2012)
2007–08 Saint Louis 16–15 7–9 T–9th
2008–09 Saint Louis 18–14 8–8 5th
2009–10 Saint Louis 23–13 11–5 4th CBI Runner-up
2010–11 Saint Louis 12–19 6–10 T–10th
2011–12 Saint Louis 26–8 12–4 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 32
Saint Louis: 95–69 (.579) 44–36 (.550)
Total: 517–215 (.706)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament 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.

Coaching awards[edit]

  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vander Hill, C. Warren (2003). Ball State Men's Basketball 1918-2003. p. 88.
  2. ^ "USA Basketball - Oops, 404 Error!". Archived from the original on November 26, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Bill Dwyre, Livin’ Large, if All Too Briefly, With Majerus, Los Angeles Times, December 24, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
  4. ^ Larry Stewart, He Admits to Just One Big Vice, With Relish, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
  5. ^ a b c d "Majerus to Sit Out Season Because of Mother's Health". latimes. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  6. ^ "His 2 loves doing just fine". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "His 2 loves doing just fine". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  8. ^ "MAJERUS SAYS HE'S SERIOUS ABOUT MARATHON". DeseretNews.com. June 5, 1991. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  9. ^ Lance Allred
  10. ^ Associated Press, Utah coach cleared of ex-player's allegations, ESPN, January 22, 2004, Accessed January 19, 2010
  11. ^ a b Paul Gutierrez, It’s a Feel-Good Story, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
  12. ^ Paul Gutierrez, Floyd Looks Like a Keeper for Trojans, Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2005, Accessed January 16, 2009
  13. ^ Bill Plaschke, Laughter Belies a Serious Quest, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
  14. ^ Mike Terry and Jason Reid, He Just Wasn’t Fit to Be Tied Down, Los Angeles Times, December 21, 2004, Accessed January 16, 2009
  15. ^ Bill Dwyre (November 25, 2011). "Rick Majerus tells why he gave up USC job in 2004". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ "Rick Majerus Quotes". Archived from the original on April 5, 2007.
  17. ^ Forbes.com Saint Louis Hires Coach Rick Majerus Archived August 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ "Alyce Majerus Obituary - Milwaukee, WI - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Majerus takes medical leave at SLU, won't coach 2012-13". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. August 24, 2012.
  22. ^ a b Rick Majerus won't return to SLU. ESPN, 2012-11-16.
  23. ^ "Rick Majerus, ex-SLU coach, dies at 64". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. December 1, 2012.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Memorial Service Today for Rick Majerus". slubillikens.com. Retrieved April 8, 2016.

External links[edit]