Majerus to replace Soderberg at Saint Louis

Updated: April 28, 2007, 1:57 AM ET
By Andy Katz |

Former Utah coach and current ESPN analyst Rick Majerus has accepted the head coaching position at Saint Louis and will be introduced at a Monday news conference, Majerus told Friday.

Rick Majerus

Majerus said he will sign the contract Saturday. He has been at ESPN as a game and studio analyst the past three years.

Majerus, considered one of the top basketball minds, coached the Utes to the 1998 national title game where they lost to Kentucky. He has a career record of 422-147 with 15 postseason appearances.

Majerus' name has been consistently brought up with many coaching openings since he left Utah. He accepted the Southern California head coaching job in December 2004 only to change his mind three days later. He had cited health reasons when he retired as Utah's coach in January 2004.

As for why he took the Saint Louis job, family considerations appeared to be a factor in Majerus' decision making.

"I'm pretty close to my mom," Majerus said. "I can drive home in six hours. When I was at Utah, I never went more than two months without seeing my mother. It's a 55 minute flight."

Majerus, who is 59, said he will get himself in shape before the season. He said his health is good right now.

Majerus will inherit a team that has four returning starters, losing only senior center Ian Vouyoukas. Forward Tommie Liddell, who will be a junior, led the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game.

Majerus said he misses practice and will conduct a two hour session Saturday. He said he will assemble a good coaching staff, which may include former Illinois State coach Porter Moser.

"I am extremely excited about having a person of Rick Majerus' stature and reputation at the helm of our men's basketball team," Saint Louis president Father Lawrence Biondi said. "I know that we are now headed to take our men's basketball team to the next level.

"Rick and I have gotten a chance to know each other over the past week," Biondi said. "I am very impressed with all that he will bring to our men's basketball program, including his commitment to run a program that we can all be proud of."

Majerus was the only candidate the Billikens interviewed to replace Brad Soderberg, who was fired two weeks ago after his inability to get the Billikens to the NCAA Tournament in five seasons.

Saint Louis hasn't had a 20-win season since 1997-98, and finished in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season. Saint Louis was 80-74 under Soderberg and made it to the NIT his first two seasons.

"I'm excited to get back into coaching," Majerus said. "This is a great opportunity. I'm going to bust my tail and we'll see how it goes."

Saint Louis, which plays in the Atlantic 10, is going to open a new $80.5 million arena on campus in two seasons. SLU is simliar to Majerus' alma mater Marquette where he played and coached.

"I love the situation there," Majerus said. "I like the league, the new building. I think we can recruit the right type of student there.

Majerus' hiring is a home run for the school, which was criticized for the timing of Soderberg's firing.

"Rick wrestled with this decision all week," his agent Sandy Montag of IMG said. "He'll miss ESPN. He really loved the people at ESPN. This was an emotional decision. He made the final decision Thursday night. This keeps him close to his mother in Milwaukee and that is very important to him."

The contract will be close to five years for close to $1 million a year.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer