Majerus to resume work as ESPN analyst

Updated: December 21, 2004, 6:09 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LOS ANGELES -- Rick Majerus made it official Monday: He has quit the Southern California basketball coaching job he took just last weekend.

Offering an apology for backing out less than a week after he accepted the position, Majerus told reporters at a campus news conference he didn't feel his health was up to working the 18-hour days he believes such a job requires.

"I made a mistake," Majerus said. "I apologize to USC for any inconvenience or embarrassment."

Majerus said he decided he could not coach up to his standards because of what he called "my fitness problem." Majerus, who has had heart problems and has fought an ongoing battle with his weight, retired as Utah's coach last January after 15 seasons, citing health concerns.

He said Monday that while his health is OK, he doesn't believe it was strong enough to work 18 hours a day, as he said he has always done in his previous coaching jobs. Not making that commitment, Majerus said, wouldn't be fair to USC athletic director Mike Garrett, who had hired him.

Garrett said he was still impressed by Majerus after spending some time with him.

"There is no one way to start this off, but just let me tell you that during the time that Rick Majerus has been here, it's a tremendous loss to USC. He is just the best. I'm just glad that I had a chance to know him," Garrett said, adding, "this is the shortest-lived basketball head coaching job in the history of the NCAA."

A source also told ESPN.com that USC was expected to contact Tim Floyd on Monday if school officials hadn't already contacted him over the weekend.

Majerus' former employer, ESPN, announced over the weekend that the coach had a change of heart after accepting the job last week.

Majerus, 56, had been announced last Wednesday as the Trojans incoming coach and was to assume the post on April 1.

Until taking over, he was supposed to work on recruiting and filling the assistant coaching job vacated when Jim Saia was promoted to interim coach after Henry Bibby's firing.

After taking the job, Majerus met Wednesday with Saia to discuss the basketball program's future. But the next day he began canceling scheduled meetings with Trojan players and assistant coaches.

On Saturday, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said Majerus "had a change of heart" and asked to return to the sports network where he was a college basketball analyst. Krulewitz said Majerus would be returning to that role.

When he took the job, Majerus said he wasn't concerned about his health.

"My health is good or I wouldn't do this," he said last week. "Both my doctors encouraged me to do it. I wouldn't put anyone, least of all myself, in harm's way."

Majerus coached Utah to the national championship game in 1998, losing to Kentucky, one of the school's 10 NCAA Tournament appearances during his tenure. His other stints were at Ball State and Marquette and with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks as an assistant.

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

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