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Rick Majerus is dead.  He was coaching at a Jesuit university in St. Louis and got sideways with Archbishop Burke for announcing he supported Hillary Clinton and abortion and other disreputable things.  Presumably, the coach knows the truth now....


LOS ANGELES -- Rick Majerus, the jovial college basketball coach who led Utah to the 1998 NCAA final and had only one losing season in 25 years with four schools, died Saturday. He was 64.

Utah industrialist Jon Huntsman, the coach's longtime friend, confirmed in a statement released through The Salt Lake Tribune that Majerus died of heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital. The coach had been hospitalized there for several months.

Players remembered Majerus, who got his start as a longtime assistant under Al McGuire at Marquette, as a coach who was exacting and perhaps a bit unorthodox at times, but always fair. Majerus was known for assembling rosters with an international flair, and his final team at Saint Louis had players from Australia and New Zealand.

"It was a unique experience, I'll tell you that, and I loved every minute of it," said Saint Louis guard Kyle Cassity, who was mostly a backup on last season's 26-win team after starting for Majerus earlier in his college career. "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."

Saint Louis athletic director Chris May said in a statement that what he would remember most about Majerus "was his enduring passion to see his players excel both on and off the court."

"He truly embraced the term `student-athlete,' and I think that will be his lasting legacy," May added.

The school announced Nov. 19 that Majerus wouldn't return to Saint Louis because of the heart condition. He ended the school's 12-year NCAA tournament drought last season, and bounced back from his only losing season, with a team that won its opening game and took top regional seed Michigan State to the wire. The Billikens were ranked for the first time since 1994-95.

Majerus was undergoing evaluation and treatment in California for the ongoing heart trouble and the school announced he was on leave in late August.

Loyola of Chicago coach Porter Moser, an assistant under Majerus at Saint Louis from 2007-10, tweeted, "RIP to my friend and mentor Coach Majerus. I learned so much about the game and life. We lost One of the best! My heart is heavy tonight."

Missouri coach Frank Haith said it was a "sad day for all of college basketball."

"Coach Majerus was a tremendous coach and one of the all-time great personalities in our profession," Haith said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to Rick's family and friends and all the wonderful student-athletes and staff at Saint Louis University."

Majerus had a history of heart and weight problems dating to 1989 that persisted despite a daily constitutional of a mile swim. He had a stent inserted in August 2011 in Salt Lake City and missed some games in the 2011-12 season after gashing his leg in a collision with players.

He backed out of a commitment to coach Southern California due to heart problems.

Majerus was 95-69 in five seasons at Saint Louis and had a 25-year record of 517-216, with 15 20-win seasons and two 30-win seasons. He had his most success at Utah, going 323-95 from 1989-2004. He was at Marquette from 1983-86, and Ball State from 1987-89.

Ball State was 29-3 in 1988-89 under Majerus, including the school's first NCAA tournament victory. At Utah, Majerus produced 10 conference championships in 13 seasons.

"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."

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 coach 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."

Gonzaga assistant coach Donny Daniels spent a decade as an assistant under Majerus.

"He was a caring man, a gracious man, giving of himself," Daniels said. "He did so many nice things for me. He taught me how to coach and how to be efficient."

Majerus was openly critical of Saint Louis' affiliation in the Atlantic 10, complaining that the travel demands made it too hard to succeed academically. Yet he coached two academic All-Americans at Saint Louis, Brian Conklin and Kevin Lisch.

Majerus was born in Milwaukee and earned a spot on the freshman team at Marquette, his hometown college. He didn't make the varsity under McGuire, who instead hired him as an assistant coach in 1971.

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.

Saint Louis is 3-3 this season under interim coach Jim Crews, who joined the staff last season. The Billikens were picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 but have struggled without point guard Kwamain Mitchell, sidelined probably until January with a broken foot.

"Nobody loved basketball and teaching kids more that Rick," Crews said. "His passion for the game and the coaching profession was unparalleled."

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.

The portly coach was unabashed in his love of food, always quick with a restaurant recommendation for whatever town his teams were playing in.

His autobiography, "My Life On a Napkin," came out in 2000.

Background.  He "believes in pro-choice."  Clearly one of the true intellectual giants of our age...and such a brave man too....


If Rick Majerus were like 95 percent of the men in his profession, he wouldn't have been anywhere near that Hillary Clinton rally last weekend.

He would have been watching tape and pretending the real world didn't exist. He would have his political leanings stuffed so deep inside that nobody would know he cared about anything other than defending the pick-and-roll. And if a guy with a camera approached and asked him questions about abortion and stem-cell research, he would have dislocated his spine avoiding a direct answer.

But that's not Rick Majerus. He is that rarest of breeds: a coach with strong political beliefs and the guts to voice them.

"I would hate to think my life revolved around simply winning games," Majerus said Wednesday night, after a full day of basketball duties as coach at Saint Louis University -- and a full day of hearing his name in the news for non-basketball reasons. "It would certainly diminish the quality of my life if I weren't involved in these things. I've always believed in certain causes. I think it's good for your soul to be involved in this process.

The better part of discretion is never taking a stand on anything politically as a coach. But you can't go to the safe haven all the time.

"The better part of discretion is never taking a stand on anything politically as a coach. But you can't go to the safe haven all the time."

Majerus is pretty far out of the safe haven now, after St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke entered, stage right, and all but declared Majerus unfit to work at the Jesuit university that employs him. That came in the wake of Majerus' comments to a television reporter at the Clinton rally last Saturday, when the coach said, yeah, he's pro-choice and pro-stem-cell research.

Burke isn't one to hold back when it comes to abortion opinions. In 2004, he said he would deny Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry because of Kerry's support for abortion rights. Now, he is hammering Majerus, saying he will ask Saint Louis administrators to take "appropriate action" against their first-year coach.

"I was shocked," Majerus, a Catholic who talked extensively about his religious upbringing when he was hired, said of the archbishop's criticism. "And almost nothing shocks me anymore. …

"I have no bone to pick with the bishop, I really don't. He's entitled to his opinion, but I should be entitled to mine."

Majerus didn't appear at the Clinton rally as a representative of SLU. But I'm guessing that if Burke were to canvass the SLU campus, he might find a few students, faculty members and staffers who agree with their basketball coach. In fact, he probably could find a few of them in the pews of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis on any given Sunday.

Difference of opinion -- and the thoughtful discussion of those opinions -- is supposed to be part and parcel of a university community. Even at a university with a religious affiliation. A campus with only one school of thought and one slice of the American demographic sounds like a pretty dull place.

And any campus that has Majerus on it never will be dull. Agree or disagree with his politics, but respect the fact that the big man's life is bigger than 84 feet by 50 feet.

He's an excellent basketball coach who took Utah on an improbable run to the 1998 national title game, but he's far more than that. He is intriguingly complex -- you probably can find as many Majerus critics as Majerus fans -- and never shallow. He wears his surgically repaired heart on his sleeve and puts his neck on the line for what he believes.

"I was brought up that way," Majerus said.

His dad, Raymond Majerus, fought on Okinawa in World War II, then came home and became politically active. A guy from small-town Wisconsin with no high school diploma wound up marching for civil rights in Selma, Ala. Wound up on the board of regents at the University of Wisconsin. Wound up, along with his wife, Alyce, instilling in their son an activist's zeal.

"I campaigned for Kerry in three states," Majerus said. "I'll campaign and help out whoever the Democratic party candidate is this year. I'm still registered to vote in Utah, and I'll fly to Utah to vote. I'll miss practice to do that -- and I'll miss a meal before I miss practice.

"I believe in ending the war. I believe in gun control. I believe in stem-cell [research]. I believe in pro-choice. I respect that women need to make the decisions that are right for them, and I think it's wrong for people to speculate what they would do in a gut-wrenching, agonizing situation."

Those views haven't materialized just since he got to SLU -- Majerus used to eat lunch with Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and debate gun control. But his passion for stem-cell research has increased since watching the father of his first Utah recruit, guard Jimmy Soto, die from the neurodegenerative disease ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) within the past year.

Majerus loved Al Soto. Loved the fact that he kept coming to the Utes' practices even after Jimmy graduated. Loved the way he heckled the players as they ran sprints. Loved his zest for life.

Watching him steadily deteriorate and die at age 55 affected Majerus.

"It's probably the single most debilitating disease on the planet," he said. "I sent Soto's dad to the Dominican Republic for a stem-cell transplant and helped pay for it. It gave him hope. Hope and faith are intertwined in religion -- you're hoping God is real, but you don't know. Stem-cell research gives people hope for a cure to diseases like ALS."

You won't hear this kind of stuff on your weekly college basketball teleconferences. You won't hear it from the podiums during March Madness. You never hear it from the mouths of the most influential athletes on the planet, who are scrupulously trained to avoid saying anything that might make an endorser queasy.

We know Tiger Woods believes in Nike and Michael Jordan believes in Hanes and Peyton Manning believes in Gatorade, but we sure don't know how they vote or how they feel about societal issues. Same with the vast majority of the coaches who have become the stars of college basketball, pockets lined with shoe money and other endorsements. With Majerus, we know.

With all his beliefs laid on the table in a deeply Catholic city, he will accept whatever response this controversy generates. He said he understands why the SLU president, Father Lawrence Biondi, cannot make a public show of support for him -- but he also does not expect any condemnation from the university.

"I don't anticipate repercussions," Majerus said. "But if there were, I don't need the job. I like the job, but if Father asked me to step down, I would. I think I would.

"Even if I did need the job, it isn't something that would deter me from this. I'm not going to change my opinions."

Pat Forde is a national columnist for He can be reached at
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
:pray: :pray: :pray:
(12-02-2012, 12:31 AM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
:pray: :pray: :pray:

He graduated from Marquette University High School.