Atlantic 10 Turmoil Continues as Saint Louis Coach Rick Majerus Steps Down

Scott HenryFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2012

Mar 15, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Saint Louis Billikens head coach Rick Majerus addresses the media before the second round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Nationwide Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

In a wild week for the Atlantic 10 that saw Xavier expel its leading returnee Dez Wells, a fellow conference contender absorbed a body blow Friday when Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus stepped down.

A release from SLU's athletic department announced that Majerus will take a leave of absence for the 2012-13 season to deal with an "ongoing heart condition."

Assistant coach Jim Crews, a former head coach at Evansville and Army, will lead the Billikens during the upcoming season. No decision has been made about future seasons.

Majerus's contract with SLU expires after this season, and this health scare may prompt him to take further time off from coaching after his convalescence.

Majerus's health has interrupted his career on multiple occasions. Heart surgery cut his first year at Utah (1989-90) short at only six games. He was also hospitalized in January 2004 with further heart issues.

In December 2004, Majerus accepted the head coaching job at USC, but resigned only five days later, citing fitness concerns. Later reports surfaced that he left the job at his mother's request, as she was uncomfortable with him relocating to Los Angeles, far away from the family's Wisconsin home.

Majerus has amassed 517 wins between stints at Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis. He took Utah to two Sweet 16 berths, an Elite Eight and the 1998 championship game, where his Utes lost to Kentucky.

Crews won 294 games in 17 years at the University of Evansville, taking the Purple Aces to four NCAA tournaments. In seven years at Army, however, he struggled to a 59-140 record. Crews is a graduate of Indiana University, where he played on the undefeated 1976 national championship team under Bob Knight.