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Tark the Shark dead at 84
« Opened on February 11, 2015, 02:50:35 PM »

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2015/02/11/jerry-tarkanian-obituary-unlv-mens-basketball-coach-ncaa/2064683/

Quote
UNLV's Jerry Tarkanian, Rebel with a cause vs. NCAA, has died
 Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports 2:14 p.m. EST February 11, 2015

Former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, who led the Runnin' Rebels to four Final Fours and the 1990 NCAA men's basketball championship, died Wednesday at age 84, his son Danny Tarkanian confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.

"To me, he's the greatest man I've ever met," said by phone Wednesday. "I mean that not only about what he did in his profession but also what kind of family man he was. He was great with the media, was great with the players and, other than one or two other coaches, he was great with the coaches. He got along with everyone. I will miss him every day of my life."

Despite his accomplishments, entrance into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame eluded Jerry Tarkanian until 2013, presumably because his legacy was as complicated as any in college basketball history.

His health had been in decline, including a mild heart attack in March 2012, and family and friends were grateful he had been admitted to the Hall of Fame before his passing.

Tarkanian spent 11 days in a La Jolla, Calif., hospital in July 2013 to relieve an arterial blockage and have a pacemaker installed in his heart. Tarkanian had been hospitalized this week with breathing problems.


FOR THE WIN
The basketball world mourns loss of legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian
Danny Tarkanian said the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas will host a celebration to honor his father on March 1.

UNLV President Len Jessup said in a statement Wednesday, "Coach Tarkanian's contribution to UNLV and Southern Nevada stretches far beyond the game of basketball. Many in Southern Nevada and around the nation were introduced to UNLV through Coach Tarkanian and the Runnin' Rebels.

"He made Runnin' Rebel basketball a brand name during his 19 years on campus, inspiring our community and creating a legacy that endures to this day. He will be deeply missed though fondly remembered as a college basketball icon and as one of the greats in our university's history."

RIP, Coach #Tark. pic.twitter.com/agvXuO1TYw
— UNLV Athletics (@UNLVathletics) February 11, 2015
From the start of his Division I coaching career at Long Beach State in 1968 to his final season at his alma mater Fresno State in 2002, Tarkanian carried the reputation of a rogue who would take in student-athletes other schools passed on — and win with them. For that he was incessantly dogged by the NCAA, on suspicions of cheating and academic irregularities.

He waged constant battles with college sports' governing body through numerous investigations, fought for due process throughout and uttered the one quote that echoes through NCAA history: "The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky that it put Cleveland State on two more years' probation."

Danny Tarkanian said his father was well ahead of his time in pushing back against the NCAA for what the coach called flawed enforcement practices. Only in recent years has more widespread criticism been directed at the NCAA's enforcement arm because of documented missteps in some high-profile investigations, most notably at the University of Miami.

Tark All Americans
Former UNLV head basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, center, poses with two of his former star players, Stacey Augmon, left, and Larry Johnson, during ceremonies retiring their jerseys in December 1995 (Photo: Lennox McClendon, AP)
That reputation obscured his accolades as a coach and his impact as an innovator well ahead of his time, including the use of the "amoeba" defense — a gambling zone defense used by Tarkanian's remarkable UNLV teams that led to steals and fast breaks. Hence, the Runnin' Rebels.

But UNLV's significance transcended the sport. The Rebels exuded an us-against-the-world mentality, thriving in 1990 in spite of a string of player suspensions. And they played amid the glitzy aura of showtime basketball.

"In the '90s the town just embraced it," former UNLV All-American and current assistant coach Stacey Augmon said. "Everywhere we went we were like the NBA guys," with stars such as Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles frequently at their games.

And at the helm was the coach with the droopy eyes, whose anxiety during games was relieved by chewing on a towel. In an oral history done in April 2013 by the weekly Vegas Seven: This Week in Your Town, Larry Chin, a UNLV equipment manager since 1976, explained Tarkanian's towel obsession:

Tark towel
Jerry Tarkanian, in one of his most frequent poses, biting on a towel during a game, here as his UNLV Runnin' Rebels play Weber State in November 1995. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports)
"The towel was such a strong habit that it became slightly superstitious for him. And because it was so special to him, I kinda made it a point to not make it special for the public.

"We didn't use the same towels all the time or anything like that. They were just plain, old, ordinary white towels."

Architect of top teams

Tarkanian was the coach and architect of two of the best college basketball teams of all-time: UNLV's 1990 national championship team and the '91 Runnin' Rebels, who went 27-0 in the regular season and whose loss to Duke in the national semifinals stands as one of the NCAA tournament's biggest upsets.

History is laden with other memorable, influential champions but few as dominant. The starting lineup in 1991 consisted of players with a combined 23 years of college experience. Among them: Augmon, Greg Anthony and Larry Johnson. Augmon played 15 seasons in the NBA, Anthony played 11 and Johnson 10.

"That's the scary part," said UNLV coach Dave Rice, a role player on those teams. "Can it ever happen to that degree again? Will we ever have a situation where that many guys stay in college, where they are good enough, until their junior or senior year? Times have changed."

George Lynch, who played for North Carolina in the 1991 Final Four, says no national champion since — not 1996 Kentucky, not 2009 North Carolina — has come close to matching that UNLV squad.

Tark Duke 2
Duke guard Bobby Hurley, left, consoles UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian after the Blue Devils beat his Runnin' Rebels 79-77 in the semi-final game of the Final Four in March 1991. In background is Duke's coach Mike Krzyzewski. (Photo: Bob Jordan, AP)
"When Vegas was good, all the kids idolized them," Lynch said. "Seeing how those guys played, expressed themselves — to most youths, they were the Fab Five before Michigan's Fab Five."

But Tarkanian's success did not sit well with the NCAA.

Tarkanian long contended the NCAA had targeted his teams at Long Beach State and UNLV, all starting, he believed, from articles he wrote in the Long Beach (Calif.) Press Telegram citing the NCAA's unfairness in penalizing smaller schools but not the more prominent programs with similar if not worse violations.

In 1974, while he was at UNLV, the NCAA found 23 violations under Tarkanian while he was at Long Beach State, including improper gifts to potential recruits and fixing test scores. For that the NCAA tried to impose a two-year suspension on him from postseason play while he was at UNLV. But in 1977 a Nevada court squashed that with a permanent injunction, saying the NCAA investigator had an "obsession to the point of paranoia" to get Tarkanian.

Through his ordeals Tarkanian would say, "I always spoke up for what I thought was right."

Forced to resign

After being the subject of several NCAA investigations, and by the end of the 1991-92 UNLV season, he was forced by the school to resign.

In 1992, Tarkanian and his wife, Lois, filed a 77-page lawsuit against the NCAA, claiming it manufactured evidence to run him out of coaching on a 20-year vendetta. The legal wrangling ultimately ended six weeks before the lawsuit was set to go to trial in 1998, with the NCAA reaching a $2.5 million settlement with the Tarkanians.

"The NCAA regrets the 26-year ongoing dispute with Jerry Tarkanian and looks forward to putting this matter to rest," NCAA executive director Cedric Dempsey said in a statement at the time.

That did little to ease Tarkanian's angst.

"They came after me, they never stopped," Tarkanian said then. "The more I fought them, the more they came after me."

Tark Fresno State
Jerry Tarkanian returned to Fresno State, his alma mater, in 1995 to coach until he retired in 2002. (Photo: Thor Swift, Associated Press)
As his wife told columnist Dave Kindred in March 2013: "For 30-some years they presented themselves as these on-a-white-horse, holier-than-thou, highly moral guys. All the time, they hounded us, never gave us any peace, and they had no reason to do it. Jerry's coaching friends told him he'd never get in the Hall of Fame unless he shut up about the NCAA. Well, he wouldn't shut up."

Tarkanian went on to coach at Fresno State in 1995 until his retirement in 2002, at 71.

He was held in high regard many current coaches, and many of them were on his side to gain Hall of Fame entry.

"He is as good a coach as we have ever had in our sport. ... They were so much better defensively than anyone ever gave them credit for. He influenced a lot of coaches," said Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, now at SMU.

"Jerry had consistent high levels of success because his teams played hard defensively. He's one of the truly remarkable defensive coaches," said Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke.

Tarkanian most notably had tremendous respect for Kansas coach Bill Self, who spoke regularly to Tarkanian on the phone in Tark's later years. Self recalled that after Tarkanian's Fresno State team beat Self's outstanding 32-5 Tulsa team for the third time in the 1999-2000 season, in the final of the Western Athletic Conference tournament, Tarkanian entered the Tulsa locker room to speak to the team.

"He said, 'Just so you know, you guys are better than us,' " Self said. " 'I don't know why we have your number. You guys have a chance to go far in the NCAAs. You guys deserve this more than we do. I just want to tell you how much I love watching you play.'"

That Tulsa team made the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.

"The thing about Tark that amazes me, obviously he won a ton of games, obviously he recruited unbelievable players, obviously he got them to play together and to play hard," Self said.

"The players that play for him, the ones that I know, all sing his praises. They say he was a tough, tough guy. He loved the game. He had great respect for the game and for other coaches. I love Tark."
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Re: Tark the Shark dead at 84
« Reply #1 on February 11, 2015, 03:00:03 PM »

This man knew how to cruit! He had, let's just say, the Midas touch when it came to getting guys to come to NLV.
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Re: Tark the Shark dead at 84
« Reply #2 on February 12, 2015, 12:36:18 AM »

This man knew how to cruit! He had, let's just say, the Midas touch when it came to getting guys to come to NLV.

He had'em running!
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