Denny Crum Cause of Death: How Did the Legendary Louisville Men’s Basketball Coach Die?

Denzel Edwin Crum, who lived in the United States and coached college men's basketball, passed away on May 9, 2023. He coached the University of Louisville basketball team from 1971 to 2001 when they finished with a 675-295(.696) record under his watch.

During Crum's time at Louisville, the Cardinals made six trips to the Final Four and won two national titles (1980, 1986). He has been a fixture in the annals of Kentucky athletics and college basketball ever since he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994 for his exceptional contributions to the sport.

Denny Crum was known for his innovative coaching techniques, one of which was to play tough non-conference opponents early in the season. The enormous stakes of the NCAA tournament, where a loss means the season is over, inspired him to take this strategy.

Because of his cool temperament and playoff prowess, Crum was called “Mr. March” and, more famously, “Cool Hand Luke.” Crum was easily recognizable as a coach due to his signature gesture of clutching a rolled-up program in one hand during games.

On occasion, he wore a red blazer to games in honor of Louisville's red and black team colors. It was Crum's 2-2-1 zone press defense that made his teams famous, and they'd switch to man-to-man in the half-court.

Crum used a high-post approach that put an emphasis on post-play, much like the one that John Wooden used to run at UCLA. Crum coached a number of NBA first-round picks in the post from 1989 through 1996, including Pervis Ellison, Felton Spencer, Clifford Rozier, and Samaki Walker.

Denny Crum Cause of Death

His guards showed similar prowess in the paint as he did. The “Doctors of Dunk” moniker was given to his 1980 national champions because of their incredible dunking ability. Crum's teams were renowned for their adaptable defense, as his players routinely switched on picks and denied interior passes while actively promoting perimeter shots.

But the game changed drastically in 1987 when the three-point line was implemented into the playoffs, and Crum's teams never made it back to the championship game again. The game plans that Crum implemented as a coach were brilliant.

His teams routinely scored on the first play after a timeout, which they had drawn up. They also performed well in nail-biters, which is a credit to Crum's coaching. Crum announced his retirement shortly after turning 64, saying he will leave at the end of the current season.

Crum insisted that his decision to leave was completely his own, but allegations persisted that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich had a hand in it so that he could hire Rick Pitino.

Denny Crum Cause of Death

Denny Crum, a Hall of Fame coach who won two NCAA men's basketball titles and turned the University of Louisville into a powerhouse program in the 1980s, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Louisville, Kentucky. He was 86.

Susan, his wife, informed the university of his passing, and the institution made the announcement. No cause of death was given. In August of 2017, while fishing in Alaska, Crum suffered a little stroke. He also suffered a similar stroke two years prior.

Fans and Friends Paid Tribute to Denny Crum

Denny Crum Cause of Death

“He made you prepare for what we did,” said Cardinals great Junior Bridgeman, who played from Crum from 1972-75. “He said if you are good at what you’re going to do, we’re not going to worry about what the other team is going to do. And that really translates into life. That’s a life lesson that’ll carry you farther and in whatever area you go into.”

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