News that Rick Majerus dies has brought sorrow to the world of college basketball as it remembers the portly, basketball obsessed coach.
Majerus, who led Utah to the 1998 NCAA final and had only one losing season in his 25 total years of coaching, died Saturday at age 64, The Associated Press reported.
Rick Majerus dies after spending several months in a Los Angeles hospital where he was undergoing evaluation for ongoing heart problems, the report noted.
Known as an exacting and unorthodox coach, Majerus had a knack for getting the most out of his sometimes-unusual rosters. He was a pioneer in seeking out international players, and at his final coaching stop at Saint Louis he had players from Australia and New Zealand.
Players also remembered Rick Majerus fondly.
“It was a unique experience, I’ll tell you that, and I loved every minute of it,” said Saint Louis guard Kyle Cassity. “A lot of people questioned the way he did things, but I loved it. He’d be hard as hell on you, but he really cared.”
Majerus had planned on returning to Saint Louis again this season, but the team announced November 19 that his heart condition would leave him unable to coach. He helped lead the team back to the NCAA tournament last season after a 12-year drought. The team won its opening game and took No. 1 seed Michigan State to the wire before losing by four.
As Rick Majerus dies, he leaves a lasting legacy on the world of college basketball. He had a 25-year record of 517-216, including a 323-95 record at Utah.
“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,” Utah athletic director Dr. Chris Hill said in a statement.
“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.”
Rick Majerus dies also leaving a reputation as a jovial and big-hearted coach. Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Eisenberg recalls that when Majerus was introduced as coach at Saint Louis in 2007, the school’s president noted in his speech that Majerus’ last name means “great” in Latin. Majerus later corrected to reporters, “I think it means sausage-eater.”