Majerus' Death Should be A Wake-up Call for Coaches

"Some guys smoke. Some guys drink. Some guys chase women. I'm a big barbecue-sauce guy." -Rick Majerus

Last Saturday, we lost one of the great basketball minds of all-time. Rick Majerus was known for recruiting players based on character and work-ethic as much as talent. He was able to take those players and help them each reach their full potential as individuals and, likewise, as a team. In 25 years as a head coach at four different schools, he only had one losing season.

Majerus’ death was caused by heart failure, due to a result of poor health habits. Off the court, he was famous for his addiction and unhealthy relationship with food.

Despite his highly successful career, he still had more to give to the game of basketball and to the players who went to play for him. His impact on people was not finished.

Coaches are already under immense stress, especially head coaches. This slowly destroys our mental health and also contributes to damaging our physical health. It is important for coaches to make their physical health a priority to enable us to do our job at the highest capacity we can.

Here are three things you can start doing this week to improve your physical health:

Build muscle

Strength training is directly linked to longevity. Building muscle is a great defense towards inflammation, aging, and heart disease. You will also have more energy throughout the day. Strength training of some form is a must. The goal isn’t to look like a professional athlete or bodybuilder, but instead to build muscle and increase your overall health.

Re-evaluate your coaches meetings

Coaches meetings are usually accompanied by large amounts of food. Post-game gatherings become fast-food binges, leaving you dragging when you wake up the next morning. Meeting with your staff does not require chicken wings and nachos. Find new places or times to meet that do not encourage food binges.


Some coaches can’t sleep because their mind is constantly on their team. Others don’t sleep because they think if they sleep they will not be able to fully do their job. Sleep is a necessity. It increases your mental focus, allows for physical recovery, and helps your immune system. You can’t afford not to sleep. If you have trouble getting enough sleep during the week, make it a priority to take naps on the weekends. Try and develop a nightly routine to help you get the best sleep you can.


Coaches are in a great position to motivate young men and women. The best coaches teach values to their players that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. Majerus was one of these coaches. Unfortunately, there is a great number of young men who will not get the opportunity to play for him because of his early death.

What can you start doing to promote health instead of destroy it? How have you seen your physical health affect your ability to do your job?

"I think the biggest thing I got from him was just his desire to win and do things right. A lot of people say they want to win, but not a lot of people match their effort with their words. He did every day. Every day he came, you could see that the No. 1 thing he wanted to do was make you reach your potential. That now affects every part of my life. Everything I do, I try to do to the fullest like I think he would do and he would expect me to do." -Nick Jacobson, University of Utah ‘04