On April 30, 2007, Rick Majerus was introduced as the 24th head coach of the Billiken basketball program. Without question, Majerus is the most accomplished head coach in the history of the Saint Louis University basketball. When he was announced to a cheering throng at an introductory news conference, the University made a loud and clear statement about its commitment to Billiken basketball.
The University reaped the benefits of the hire during the 2011-12 season, when Majerus led the Billikens to the third round of the NCAA Tournament and a 26-8 record, the second-most wins in school history. By winning the ESPN 76 Classic - SLU's first in-season tourney win since 1986 - the Billikens entered the national rankings for the first time since 1994.
Majerus' reputation as one of the game's keenest minds is supported by a litany of career accomplishments. In 25 years of coaching at the collegiate level, Majerus has amassed a 517-216 career record, which includes a 95-69 mark in five seasons at the helm of the Billikens. Majerus' record stands among the elite in college basketball. His 517 career wins and .705 winning percentage appear in the NCAA recordbook among active head coaches. He has taken 12 teams to the NCAA Tournament, four to the NIT and one to the CBI Tournament finals. He has reached the 20-win plateau 15 times, including two seasons with 30 wins.
The 2011-12 season marked the Billikens return to the NCAA Tournament, their first appearance in the Big Dance since 2000. Armed with a veteran squad, SLU jumped out to a 6-0 mark. The final four games of that stretch came against major conference opponents - Washington, Boston College, Villanova and Oklahoma. The nation took notice, and the Billikens achieved a top 25 ranking (No. 23 AP/No. 25 ESPN/USA Today) after their fast start.
SLU would go on to capture a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed at the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament after going 12-4 in the competitive league slate.
The end result was an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, giving SLU its first at-large appearance since 1998. Majerus led the Billikens to a 61-54 victory against Memphis in the second round in Columbus, Ohio. Only once has a Majerus-coached team never won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament. The Billikens bowed out of the tournament after a hard-fought matchup against No. 1 seed Michigan State.
Previously, the Billikens' best season in the Majerus Era came in 2009-10, as Majerus led the Bills to 23 victories. The Billikens earned their first postseason tournament appearance since 2004 when they accepted a bid to play in the College Basketball Invitational. SLU stormed to the best-of-three championship series against VCU before seeing their season come to an end.
As proud as Majerus is of his players on the court, their classroom achievements bring him even more satisfaction. In Majerus' program, academics are the top priority. That approach has led to 48 different players earning academic All-Conference awards. Since stepping foot on Saint Louis' campus, Majerus has coached two Academic All-Americans - Brian Conklin and Kevin Lisch.
In five years with the Billikens, Majerus has had eight players earn Academic All-Conference honors, the most by any A-10 program during that span. When Conklin was named Academic All-American in 2011-12, it was the sixth player to earn Academic All-America honors. Michael Doleac and Drew Hansen were both selected in 1997-98, making Utah the first Final Four team with two Academic All-Americans in its starting lineup.
Hansen also won the 1997 Playboy Magazine Anson Mount Scholar-Athlete Award for basketball, was a Rhodes Scholar candidate and was a finalist for the Walter Byers Award, the highest academic award given by the NCAA. In addition to Hansen, Majerus is proud to have coached two other Rhodes Scholar candidates during his career: Marc Marotta at Marquette and Rich Hall at Ball State.
During his time at the University of Utah, Majerus led the Utes to 10 NCAA Tournaments and 10 regular-season conference titles. He coached his teams to four Sweet 16 appearances, two Elite Eights and the 1998 national championship game. Utah finished four seasons ranked in the top 10 during his 15-year tenure, including a No. 2 ranking at the end of the 1997-98 season.
Majerus led Utah to 10 regular-season conference championships in 13 years, the most of any NCAA Division I program in the nation from 1990-2003. In addition, the Utes were regularly ranked in the top 25. Utah was ranked in the final USA Today/ESPN poll five consecutive years from 1995-1999, including top-10 finishes in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls from 1997-1999.
Majerus' coaching earned him repeated national recognition. He was selected conference Coach of the Year five times, and he was tabbed the Basketball Times and UPI Coach of the Year in 1991. Majerus was the 1992 and 1998 Playboy Coach of the Year and the John Wooden Coach of the Year in 1998. He was also a seven-time District Coach of the Year.
Prior to taking the helm at Utah, Majerus spent two seasons at Ball State, leading the 1988-89 squad to a 29-3 overall record and a spot in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals' victory over Pittsburgh was the first NCAA Tournament win in school history.
His two-year stint at Ball State was preceded by a one-year venture into professional basketball as an assistant coach for his home-state Milwaukee Bucks in 1986-87. Under head coach Don Nelson, Majerus helped the Bucks post a 50-32 record and qualify for the NBA playoffs.
Majerus accepted his first head coaching job at his alma mater, Marquette University, in 1983-84 after 12 years as an assistant there. In three years as the head coach, he led Marquette to a 56-35 record and three postseason appearances. His best squad at MU was the 1984-85 team that posted a 20-11 record and reached the third round of the NIT.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Marquette, Majerus served 12 years as an assistant under legendary coach Al McGuire. Majerus was part of 11 NCAA Tournament appearances highlighted by the NCAA championship run in 1977. Majerus' coaching career humbly began when he was the head coach of the freshman team at Marquette University High School from 1969-1971.
Majerus was born to Alyce and Raymond Majerus on Feb., 17, 1948, in Sheboygan, Wis. Seven years later, the family moved to Milwaukee. Majerus graduated from Marquette University High School in 1967.
Majerus enrolled at his hometown college, Marquette, and earned a spot on the freshman team. He did not earn a position on head coach Al McGuire's varsity squad, but the moment began Majerus' coaching odyssey.
While still a student at Marquette, Majerus earned his first coaching position as an assistant coach at St. Sebastian Junior High School in Milwaukee. That job led to another job at his old high school. After graduating from Marquette in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in history, Majerus was hired by McGuire as a full-time assistant in 1971. After Marquette won the 1977 national championship, McGuire stepped down, and long-time assistant and former Billiken standout Hank Raymonds was named head coach. Majerus was an integral member of Raymonds' staff for six more seasons.
In addition to his numerous collegiate coaching accolades, Majerus is well schooled in the international scene. He was an assistant coach on the 1993 Team USA squad and the 1994 Team USA squad known as the "Dream Team II," which claimed the gold medal at the World Championships in Toronto. Standouts he coached on that team included Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning.
Majerus was also the head coach of the 1997 U-22 World Championship team, which featured another future Billiken head coach, Lorenzo Romar. He is enshrined in the basketball halls of fame in both Utah (2000) and Wisconsin (2001) and was named the Utah Sports Person of the Year in 1991 and 1997.
Regarded as one of the finest teachers in the game, Majerus groomed three of his Utah players into first-round NBA draft picks. Keith Van Horn was the No. 2 overall pick in 1997, while Michael Doleac went 12th overall in 1998. Andre Miller became Majerus' third consecutive first-round pick when he was selected eighth in the 1999 draft.
In addition, Hanno Mottola was a second-round pick in the 2000 draft, becoming the first Finnish player to be chosen by an NBA team. Josh Grant and Byron Wilson were also second-round draft picks in 1993.