SLU deserves more from Majerus

Regardless of what Fr. Lawrence Biondi’s February Message to Saint Louis University says, head men’s basketball coach Rick Majerus’ actions and comments will continue to be perceived as representative of SLU. The man is by far the University’s most famous employee, and he is also one of its most highly paid. So it doesn’t exactly do SLU any favors when he is in the news for negative reasons, something Majerus has done a little too often lately.
Majerus has taken a lot of heat recently over several radio appearances—including several that he made, and several that he didn’t. Majerus failed to show up on more than one occasion to his own radio show on WXOS-FM in the past month, eventually leading to the cancellation of his contractually-obligated show. The one time he did manage to make the show, he stayed on for only half of the hour-long program and knocked his own team’s conference, the Atlantic 10, in the process.
To make matters worse, one of the nights Majerus missed his own show, he did manage to appear on a different radio program, Chicago’s WGN.
According to The Post-Dispatch, these childish and irresponsible actions may be Majerus’ way of showing his displeasure at a recent University cost-saving measure that now requires the basketball team to fly commercial, rather than through chartered flights, as was the case before.
Really, Rick?
SLU’s head coach needs to realize that his job extends beyond the basketball court. As one of SLU’s most recognizable figures, maybe Majerus could try a little harder to not to paint the University that’s paying his extremely high salary in a wholly unnecessarily negative light. The coach is without a doubt doing a solid job laying the foundation for a strong basketball program, but that is simply not enough. And the attendance at men’s basketball games is strong evidence of this point.
Throughout the ‘90s, the Bills continually ranked in the top-25 nationally for attendance, including the ’98 season that saw the Billikens bring in 17,708 fans a game, good enough for sixth in the nation. Now, the Billikens struggle to bring in more than 7,000 fans.
Those high attendance records can be attributed to the work of then head coach Charlie Spoonhour, who not only floored competitive teams in Conference USA, but also was as fan and media-friendly as could be. Spoonhour did everything he could to promote the team and the university, while Majerus seemingly treats any activity outside of basketball as a chore. There really is no mystery behind the disparity in these attendance numbers; people simply are not excited about these teams. And if Majerus is not going to make people be excited about his team, then who will?