Jerry Tarkanian will join the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ronald Reagan, and John F. Kennedy when the lights go dim on the Las Vegas Strip tonight to honor of the former UNLV coach, a legend in the Valley of the Sun who passed away February 11 at the age of 84.
Tarkanian, who accumulated more than 700 wins at Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State is best known for his 1990 National Championship Team and his legendary battles with the NCAA. With the recent pressure on the NCAA to evaluate the well-being of Division I athletes, it is safe to say that Tarkanian was a crusader in the fight for athletes’ well-being long before others began “chewing” on the subject.
The Hall of Fame coach’s teams were best known for their suppressing style of defense that fueled fast-paced offensive opportunities. But it was Tarkanian’s gift of bringing players aboard with checkered pasts and personalities and molding those players into championship-level basketball teams.
Throughout his coaching tenure the NCAA was never far from whatever campus he inhabited. It got to the point where Tarkanian once mentioned that he didn’t know who was going to be in the starting lineup during the championship run in 1990. The NCAA was on campus 11 times and suspended 10 players at various times.
Athletes today, who will benefit due to the changes in policy by the NCAA, should dim their lights on Wednesday as well.
- Tim Foley is the Dean of Student Services at the United States Sports Academy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.