Philanthropy • Former Utah basketball coach established philanthropic organization prior to his death
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Rick Majerus has been dead for almost a year, but the former University of Utah men's basketball coach left a legacy that continues to grow.
On Wednesday, the Huntsman Cancer Institute announced that the Majerus Family Foundation will make a $2 million gift toward construction of the new Primary Children and Families Cancer Research Center.
Majerus coached at Utah from 1989 to 2004, turning the Utes into a national power and leading them to the Final Four in 1998. He was a founding member of the Huntsman Institute, which was established in 1995, often making large donations to the cancer research center. He enjoyed a close, longstanding friendship with Jon M. Huntsman Sr., the principal benefactor of HCI. The Majerus Family Foundation was established prior to his death.
"Rick joined our family's efforts to establish a world-class center in Utah as a founding member of the Huntsman Cancer Institute," Huntsman said. "Throughout his amazing lifetime, he continued to generously donate as much and as often as he was able to advance the cause."
Huntsman went on to note that he and Majerus were "like brothers" and that Majerus never missed an opportunity to bring one of his teams by the Institute to visit with patients.
Construction for the new research center is expected to begin in 2014. It is expected to include 220,000 square feet, doubling the size of the HCI . The entire cost of the expansion project is expected to be $100 million.
"Rick was always a guiding light in building the Cancer Institute," Huntsman said. "He was a great inspiration to the children and the adults who were struggling mightily to overcome this dreaded disease."
Majerus died of heart failure in December.
In addition to coaching at Utah, he coached at Marquette, Ball State and St. Louis. While coaching the Utes, Majerus led the program to 323 wins in his 15 seasons. He won the coach of the year award in the Western Athletic Conference five times.