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Legendary college basketball coach Rick Majerus dies at 64

By Jillian Martin, CNN
December 2, 2012 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
In 25 years, Rick Majerus coached at four schools, taking 12 teams to the NCAA tournament.
In 25 years, Rick Majerus coached at four schools, taking 12 teams to the NCAA tournament.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Nobody loved basketball and teaching kids more that Rick," Saint Louis coach says
  • Majerus had just one losing season in 25 years
  • At Utah, he went 323-95 from 1989 to 2004
  • Majerus emphasized success in the classroom, not just on the court

(CNN) -- Longtime men's college basketball coach Rick Majerus, who led Utah to the NCAA final in 1998, died Saturday from heart problems. He was 64.

Majerus recently left Saint Louis University, where he had coached for the past five years, for health reasons.

"Nobody loved basketball and teaching kids more that Rick," Billikens interim head coach Jim Crews said in a statement. "His passion for the game and the coaching profession was unparalleled. Rick was a true friend and was always there when needed. I, along with so many others, am going to miss him."

Majerus had ongoing health problems for years, dating back to his days as Utah's coach. Saint Louis director of athletics Chris May said the Billikens team was informed Saturday afternoon that Majerus' condition was deteriorating.

The school announced November 19 that Majerus would not return to coach because of his heart condition.

In 25 years, Majerus coached at four schools, taking 12 teams to the NCAA tournament. He had just one losing season. His record was 517-216, which included two 30-win seasons and 15 20-win seasons.

Majerus got his start at Marquette as an assistant to Al McGuire. He was at Marquette from 1983 to 1986 and then at Ball State from 1987 to 1989.

The apex of Majerus' career came at Utah, where he went 323-95 from 1989 to 2004. In 1998, he led the Utes to the NCAA championship game, losing to Kentucky. Three of Majerus' players at Utah were NBA draft picks -- including Keith Van Horn as the No. 2 overall pick in 1997.

"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 Director of Athletics 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."

During Majerus' final stop, at Saint Louis, the Billikens went 95-69 under his tenure. Last season, Majerus led Saint Louis to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. It was the program's first NCAA tournament win since 1998.

"Coach Majerus put his heart and soul into the Billiken program, and for that we will be eternally grateful," May said in a statement.

"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."

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