Richard Raymond “Rick” Majerus 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.
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.
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.
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)