Former SLU, Utah coach Rick Majerus dead at 64

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When Rick Majerus decided to take a leave of absence at the beginning of the 2012-13 season for health reasons, the news was concerning.

When he announced he wasn’t coming back to the Billikens at all, it was alarming.

Now the true extent of Majerus’ health issues has become known. Multiple sources, including Majerus protege and current Loyola (Chicago) head coach Porter Moser, have confirmed that Majerus passed away today at the age of 64.

USA Today confirmed the news with Majerus’ girlfriend, Angie Kvidera.

The Chicago Tribune spoke with Moser after the news began to circulate, and the former Majerus protege praised his former boss’ preparation and tactical skill:

“No one saw the game like he saw it,” said Loyola coach Porter Moser, a protege and former Majerus assistant at Saint Louis. “All of the people who will be talking about him, they didn’t have the luxury of being in a room filled with dry erase boards and preparing for a game with Rick Majerus, watching him dissect how we’re going to stop an opponent. He was a basketball guy through and through.”

St. Louis Tribune writer Bernie Miklasz penned a heartfelt ode to a friend.

Majerus began his career with the then-independent Marquette Warriors, and jumped to Ball State after three years in Milwaukee. He became best known as head man of the Utah Utes, making it all the way to the NCAA title game in 1998. He led St. Louis to a 26-8 record and an NCAA berth in his final season as Billikens head coach.

Majerus’ overall record as a collegiate head coach was 517-215.

Majerus faced heart problems early in his career, coaching just six games in his first season at Utah before undergoing bypass surgery in 1989. Another bout of heart trouble put him in the hospital in 2004, when he retired at Utah. He returned to college coaching at St. Louis in 2007, after a stint as a television commentator.

Majerus was one of the funniest coaches the sport has ever known, as a collection of his best-known quotes will attest.

He will be missed.