Former St. Louis head coach Majerus dies

Rick Majerus, who most recently served as head men's basketball coach for the St. Louis Billikens, has passed away at the age of 64.

The Post-Dispatch reported the news late Saturday night, later confirmed by the university.

"Tonight we join the rest of the basketball world in sending our condolences to Rick Majerus' family and friends," said Saint Louis director of athletics Chris May. "Coach Majerus put his heart and soul into the Billiken program, and for that we will be eternally grateful.

"What I will remember most about Rick's tenure at SLU was his enduring passion to see his players excel both on and off the court. Wins and losses meant a lot to him, but no more than to see our student-athletes succeed in the classroom. He truly embraced the term 'student-athlete,' and I think that will be his lasting legacy."

Majerus originally announced he was taking a leave of absence in late August as he was set to undergo treatment and evaluation for a persistent and serious heart ailment out in California.

That course of action was apparently extended for an indefinite period of time, and the school announced on Nov. 16 that Majerus would not return to coaching at all. Interim head coach Jim Crews, named to the post in August, has continued to lead the team.

"On behalf of the entire Saint Louis University community, I wish to extend our deepest sympathies and our prayers to Rick's family and friends during this very difficult time," said University president Lawrence Biondi, S.J.

In just five years as SLU's head coach, Majerus put the men's basketball program back on the national map, leading the Jesuit program to a 95-69 record.

Last season, he guided the Billikens to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, SLU's first NCAA appearance since 2000. In addition, the Billikens topped Memphis in the second round for their first NCAA Tournament win since 1998. Saint Louis entered the national polls for the first time since 1994-95.

A native of Wisconsin, Majerus began his collegiate coaching career in 1983 at Marquette, spending three years with Milwaukee's Jesuit institution before moving onto Ball State for the 1987-88 and 1988-89 campaigns.

Majerus then worked for 15 seasons at the University of Utah (1989-2004), going 323-95 and eventually reaching the NCAA title game in 1998.

All told, Majerus racked up a 517-216 record in 25 seasons.