Majerus to resume work as ESPN analyst

Updated: December 20, 2004, 12:41 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Rick Majerus will return to ESPN as an analyst after abruptly resigning as Southern California coach, claiming he was overwhelmed by a return to the profession less than a year after resigning at Utah because of health reasons, multiple sources told ESPN.com's Andy Katz.

However, USC athletic director Mike Garrett wasn't willing to accept Majerus' resignation until he meets with him face to face.

"We plan to meet with Rick on Monday, and until then there is nothing we can say," Garrett said.

While the meeting was scheduled prior to Majerus' decision, he is still expected to resign and then hold a Monday afternoon teleconference with reporters to explain his decision, according to Katz. Majerus never signed his deal with USC and didn't finalize his negotiated settlement with ESPN, so it's as if the last week never occured financially and legally. He's not out money either way, according to a source close to the situation. A source also told ESPN.com that USC was expected to contact Tim Floyd on Monday if school officials haven't already contacted him over the weekend.

Majerus was named coach at USC on Wednesday with a start date of April 1, allowing interim coach Jim Saia to finish the season that started under Henry Bibby. Bibby was fired two weeks ago, four games into the season.

Majerus' representation began contacting ESPN as early as Thursday, saying that he had some second thoughts about returning to coaching.

"Rick expressed to us that he had a change of heart and wondered if the possibility still existed for him to work for ESPN. And it does," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told The Associated Press Saturday night. "We told him he could (return)."

USC officials were blindsided Saturday afternoon after the Trojans beat Western Michigan at home with the news. The administration, including athletic director Mike Garrett, wasn't ready to make a comment on the matter.

But the Trojans' assistants knew there had been some suspicious behavior in the past few days from Majerus.

Saia told ESPN.com that Majerus met with him Wednesday night and the two discussed recruiting and what Majerus needed to focus on during the next three months. But Saia said Majerus canceled a recruiting meeting with assistant coach Bob Cantu, scheduled for Thursday morning. Majerus had already assigned assistant Eric Brown to go to a junior college tournament Friday at Saddleback Community College (Calif.), which Brown attended.

Then, on Friday, Majerus canceled a meeting with the four returning players who would still have eligibility left next season. Majerus talked to the team for 10 minutes on Wednesday, according to the current USC staff.

Saia was driving home after the win Saturday, trying to save his voice, and was stunned when Cantu called him to tell him the news.

"It's a shock, I don't know what to say,'' said Saia, 40.

Majerus, 56, is expected to return to ESPN as a game analyst in some capacity.

Meanwhile, Saia now has a chance to get the full-time job. The Trojans aren't likely to hire a new coach during the season. USC alumnus Paul Westphal of Pepperdine likely becomes the top outside candidate.

"I didn't have a chance a few hours ago, now I have a chance,'' Saia said. "I'm not proven but now they can see if they like me and see if they want to grow with me. The job is still open.''

Saia is 2-1 since taking over the squad. The Trojans leave Sunday for Honolulu and the Rainbow Classic at the University of Hawaii.

The Trojans are moving into a new on-campus facility in 2006-07, one of the drawing cards that makes this job even more tantalizing to someone like Majerus. Majerus talked earlier in the week about USC being one of his dream jobs. He actually welcomed the fact that he wouldn't have to coach until next season, allowing himself to get healthy. USC put him on as an assistant so he could recruit under NCAA rules.

Saia said when they talked on Tuesday everything was about recruiting, assistant coaches and moving forward with the job.

"I'm really stunned by this,'' Saia said.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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