SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - Former University of Utah basketball coach Rick Majerus has passed away at the age of 64. Majerus was suffering from heart problems the last several years. He was forced to step down as the head coach of Saint Louis University last month.
Majerus coached at Utah from 1989 to 2004, leading the Utes to the NCAA Tournament ten times, including a trip to the championship game in 1998, where his team lost to Kentucky.
Majerus compiled a record of 323-95 at Utah, a winning clip of 77 percent. Majerus won 517 games during his entire coaching career with Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis. In 25 years as a head coach, Majerus had just one losing season.
Utah athletic director Dr. Chris Hill released the following statement tonight:
“I heard from Mr. Huntsman of Coach Majerus’ passing and all of us in the University of Utah community are deeply saddened. Rick left a lasting legacy at the University of Utah, not only for his incredible success and the national prominence he brought to our basketball program, but also for the tremendous impact he made on the young men who were fortunate enough to play on his teams. His standard of excellence extended beyond the basketball court and into the academic and personal success of his players. He will be deeply missed and we grieve for his family and all of his friends.”
BYU women's basketball coach Jeff Judkins, who coached with Majerus at Utah from 1989-1999 had nothing but fond memories.
"I'll remember late nights, hard work, talking basketball and strategies," Judkins said. "And of course, eating great food. He loved food and especially to go out and eat after wins. It's a sad day. It's a day we all knew would eventually come with coach Majerus' heart. The basketball world is going to miss out on a great coach and a great person."
Judkins remembers Majerus as a tireless worker who paid a great amount of attention to the smallest details.
"He was a coach that spent a lot of time," Judkins said. "Practices were not short. He was a teacher all the time."
Majerus took 12 teams to the NCAA tournament, winning at least one game in all but one of those appearances, with the 1998 Utah team losing to Kentucky in the NCAA championship game. He led four teams to the NIT and took Saint Louis teams to the CBI tournament final in 2009-10.
"It's a sad day for college basketball," UNLV head coach and former BYU assistant Dave Rice said. "Certainly one of the great college basketball coaches. He took talent where they were most effective. When you went up against Coach Majerus and you won you knew you did something special."
Three of Majerus' players at Utah were first-round NBA draft picks. Keith Van Horn was No. 2 overall in 1997, Michael Doleac 12th in 1998 and Andre Miller eighth in 1999.
Majerus' father, Raymond, died of a heart attack at 63 in 1987. He was a former secretary-treasurer of the United Auto Workers. Majerus was devoted to his mother, Alyce, before her death in August 2011.
He was briefly married from 1987-89. He is survived by sisters Jodi and Tracy.