In a piece of college coaching news that could have a major impact on the Atlantic 10 race this season, Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus will not coach this season due to health concerns.
First reported by Bob Ramsey of 101 ESPN in St. Louis, Majerus leaves the Billiken program with a career record of 517-216.
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Saint Louis made their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2000 last season under Majerus, beating Memphis before losing to Michigan State in the round of 32.
“Rick is in a California hospital undergoing evaluation and treatment for an ongoing heart condition,” Director of Athletics Chris May said. “His health is the most important issue right now, and our hope is for full and complete recovery.”
“I appreciate what Rick has done to return SLU men’s basketball to national prominence,” University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. said. “I know that he would like to be here with his players and coaches this season, and all of us at SLU will keep Rick in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Assistant coach Jim Crews will take over as interim head coach for Majerus, who went 95-69 in his five seasons at Saint Louis. Whether or not Majerus is finished as head coach isn’t known at this time.
Crews doesn’t enter this role without head coaching experience, as he’s been in charge at both Evansville (1985-2002) and Army (2002-09) and has a career record of 353-349 with four NCAA appearances (all at Evansville).
While SLU does have to account for the loss of leading scorer and rebounder Brian Conklin from last season’s 26-8 team, they returned enough talent to be considered a contender in the deep Atlantic 10 (not to mention Top 25 nationally).
Guard Kwamain Mitchell and forward Cody Ellis lead the way as seniors and junior forward Dwayne Evans should factor into the offense even more this season.
If the players, who have experienced success, can come together the 2012-13 campaign can be a successful one for the Billikens.
But there’s no denying how important the loss of a coach the caliber of Majerus will be.