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UNLV alumni association announces Jerry Tarkanian legacy project

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Updated: 5/01/2013 5:29 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Former UNLV men’s basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian will be honored with a statue outside the building that he made famous as part of a legacy project announced by the UNLV Alumni Association today.

Tarkanian, who earlier this month was announced as the first UNLV player or coach to be voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, will have his legacy permanently honored in front of the Thomas & Mack Center by a bronze statue created by classically trained sculptor Brian Hanlon of Toms River, N.J.

The Jerry Tarkanian Legacy Project has been launched to fund the design, creation and installation of the statue as well as establishing a scholarship fund in his name. All funding for the project will come from private donations. Fans can donate now by visiting the website Once completed, the statue is expected to be unveiled in a dedication ceremony sometime this summer.

UNLV Alumni Association Executive Director Jim Ratigan and UNLV President Neal Smatresk welcomed members of the media, former players, current staff, including Runnin’ Rebel head coach Dave Rice, friends, family and supporters who had gathered at the Richard Tam Alumni Center to witness the unveiling of a rendering of the statue.

“Thank you everybody,” Tarkanian said before receiving a standing ovation. “It’s a real nice honor. It means a lot to me, my family and the (former) players. It’s really nice that the kids who were in the program are now being recognized for their accomplishments.”

During 19 years at the helm of the Runnin’ Rebels (1973-1992), Tarkanian shaped an up-tempo and aggressive style that captivated fans in Las Vegas, and across the nation. Posting a 509-105 (.829) record at UNLV, he took four teams to the NCAA Final Four, winning the national championship in 1990 in a 103-73 runaway over Duke -- still the highest margin of victory in NCAA Tournament championship game history. The court at the Thomas & Mack Center was named in his honor on Nov. 26, 2005.

A member of UNLV’s Athletics Hall of Fame since 1998, Tarkanian is one of only two coaches to see his number retired. Known to fans as the towel-chewing “Tark the Shark,” he never had a losing season while at UNLV while coaching 13 players recognized as All-Americans a total of 20 times.

He won 11 regular season conference championships, seven conference tournament titles and made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances. He was an eight-time conference coach of the year and was named UPI’s National Coach of the Year in 1983. Tarkanian will be one of 12 new members inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8 in Springfield, Mass.

“My father always felt strongly about creating opportunities for former players to come back to school here to get their degrees,” former Runnin’ Rebel Danny Tarkanian (1981-84), son of Jerry Tarkanian, told the crowd. “We hope that this scholarship program will be able to help some former athletes that weren’t able to graduate come back to school and get that done.”

-- UNLV news release


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