SALT LAKE CITY — With all of his accomplishments as a collegiate coach, particularly at the University of Utah, it was no surprise that Rick Majerus was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Tuesday.
Majerus, who died Dec. 2, 2012, came to Utah in 1989 and immediately built up a Ute program that won 323 games, while losing only 95 during his 15 years, highlighted by a trip to the NCAA championship game in San Antonio in 1998. His teams won 17 NCAA games and made it to the Sweet 16 three times and the Elite Eight twice, in addition to the Final Four run.
He left the Ute program in 2004 and after working a few years as an analyst for ESPN, later went on to coach at Saint Louis for five seasons, winning 95 games, which included an NCAA tournament game his final season. Before coming to Utah, Majerus coached for three years at Marquette and two at Ball State. In all, his record as a college coach was 517-216.
“He had an unbelievable career and it’s an honor that a lot of us thought would happen,” said Jimmy Soto, one of Majerus’ first recruits at Utah who played in the early 1990s. “My experience with him was that he always challenged us to make us better and taught us a lot about growing up and little things to make us successful in life. His record speaks for itself with his dominance in the Mountain West and playing in the NCAA Tournament every year.”
Several of the players Majerus recruited and coached went on to play in the NBA, including Keith Van Horn, Andre Miller, Michael Doleac, Britton Johnsen and Andrew Bogut. Alex Jensen, who played for Majerus, became his assistant at Saint Louis and is now an assistant for the Utah Jazz.
Majerus is one of nine inductees in the 2019 Hall of Fame class that includes former Arizona coach Lute Olson and former Valparaiso coach Homer Drew, and players Calbert Cheaney, Shane Battier, Terry Dischinger, Ernie DiGregorio, Larry Johnson and Todd Lichti.
Not to be confused with the Naismith Hall of Fame, the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame is located in Kansas City and was created by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). It honors coaches, players and others who have contributed to college basketball.
It was established in 2006 with a class of 180 members including the likes of John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Pete Maravich, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.21 comments on this story
Also in that initial class were former local coaches, Jack Gardner of Utah and Stan Watts of BYU, John “Cat” Thompson, a native Utahn who was an all-American at Montana State in the 1920s, and former BYU All-American Kresimir Cosic.
Since the inaugural class, between six and 10 college basketball contributors have been inducted each year. This year’s ceremony will take place on Nov. 24 in Kansas City.
Others with local ties who are in the National Collegiate Hall of Fame are Utah’s Arnie Ferrin (2008), Utah Stars center Zelmo Beaty (2014), Utah Jazz guard Darrell Griffith (2014), Utah Jazz star John Stockton (2017), Danny Manning (2008), who played a year for the Jazz and Cheaney, who played for the Jazz in 2002-03.