Skip to content

Legendary UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian celebrates 82nd birthday Wednesday

Aug 8, 2012, 11:46 AM EDT

Jerry Tarkanian AP

Born Aug. 8, 1930, legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian celebrates his 82nd birthday Wednesday, now a decade removed from his last job at a Division I school.

Tarkanian, most recognizable for his time with UNLV’s famed “Runnin’ Rebel” teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s, went to four Final Fours and won a national championship during his time in Las Vegas.

He finished his coaching career with an overall record of 706-198 and, on either side of his famed career at UNLV, was able to lead two other programs to a string of 20-win seasons.

Before coming to Las Vegas, he coached Long Beach State to five straight 20-win campaigns and, after UNLV, returned to coaching to lead his alma mater, Fresno State, to six straight 20-win seasons before retiring in 2002.

Tarkanian was a prominent figure in the recent documentary “Unguarded,” which profiled one of his former players at Fresno State, guard Chris Herren.

After trouble with drugs at Boston College, the talented Herren transferred to Tarkanian’s Fresno State team, playing with the Bulldogs from 1996-99 and eventually being drafted into the NBA.

Throughout his career, Tarkanian sparred with the NCAA, having taken on penalties for recruiting violations at Long Beach State and ultimately being forced out at UNLV over ties to Richard Perry, a man with connections to sports gambling. In 1998, he won a $2.5 million settlement from the NCAA after he alleged the organization “manufactured evidence” against him and harassed him for much of his coaching career.

Last year, a number of Tarkanian’s former players surprised him for his 81st birthday party. Among those players in attendance were Larry Johnson and Reggie Theus.

One of Tarkanian’s former players at UNLV, Dave Rice, now leads the Runnin’ Rebels as their head coach with perhaps the most hype surrounding the program since Tarkanian’s days at the helm.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Latest Posts
  1. Hoop Summit mixtape for Jamal Murray, Canada’s next star (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:20 AM EDT

    Jamal_Murray___POTW___Story3

    The next big thing to come from Canada isn’t going to be all that big.

  2. SMU and Gonzaga close to agreement for home-and-home beginning this season

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Mustangs and Bulldogs are looking to meet in a home-and-home series.

  3. Royce Woolridge to transfer from Washington State

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT

    Royce Woolridge Royce Woolridge

    Washington State loses three players, including a starting guard.

  4. NCAA approves unlimited meals and snacks for Division I student-athletes

    Apr 15, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA approved a rule change that will benefit student-athletes.

  5. Branden Dawson to return to Michigan State for senior season

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Tom Izzo returns a key player from last season’s 29-win team.

  6. Arizona loses Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    AP AP

    A pair of starters will leave Arizona following an Elite 8 appearance.

  7. Michigan duo Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III declare for 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Big Ten regular season champion has lost two underclassmen to the NBA draft with the possibility of a third departure as well.

  8. Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee parting ways is good for everyone involved

    Apr 15, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee was a marriage that needed to end. On Tuesday, it did.

  9. Report: Cuonzo Martin to become the new head coach at California

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:23 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Cal dipped into SEC territory to land their new head coach.

  10. Lawyer involved in Miami’s NCAA case accused of ethics violations

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The Miami investigation keeps getting more embarrassing for the NCAA.

  11. Kentucky-signee Karl Towns’ Hoop Summit mixtape (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:19 PM EDT

    2014 McDonald's All American Game Getty Images

    The future Kentucky Wildcat had an impressive showing at the Hoop Summit last weekend.

  12. Report: Domantas Sabonis, Arvydas’ son, leaning towards leaving Spain for Gonzaga

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:32 AM EDT

    images (1)

    Gonzaga is close to landing the son of another legend of the 80s

  13. Syracuse lands third commitment in 2015 with guard Franklin Howard (VIDEO)

    Apr 14, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Syracuse landed another 2015 pledge on Monday evening when guard Franklin Howard committed to the Orange.

  14. Report: Duke’s Jabari Parker will make 2014 NBA Draft decision on Wednesday

    Apr 14, 2014, 10:48 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker will decide on his future this week.

  15. Report: Washington guard Nigel Williams-Goss returning for sophomore season

    Apr 14, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT

    Nigel Williams-Goss, Richard Solomon Nigel Williams-Goss, Richard Solomon

    Washington point guard Nigel Williams-Goss will return for his sophomore season.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'