Tarkanian to quit UNLV after 1991-92 season

June 08, 1991|By Danny Robbins | Danny Robbins,Los Angeles Times

LAS VEGAS -- In an apparent compromise worked out between Jerry Tarkanian and University of Nevada-Las Vegas officials, Tarkanian will spend one more season as UNLV's basketball coach before leaving the job he has held through nearly two decades of triumph and turmoil.

Tarkanian's plans were announced yesterday after two days of talks between Tarkanian and university president Robert Maxson.

Tarkanian's program has been the subject of negative publicity on an almost weekly basis during the last few months -- the most damaging item being the publication of photographs in the Las Vegas Review-Journal May 26 showing former UNLV players Moses Scurry, David Butler and Anderson Hunt socializing with convicted sports fixer Richard Perry.

UNLV also has had to deal with an NCAA letter of inquiry charging the basketball program with rules violations in 29 areas, many focusing on the recruitment of former New York high school star Lloyd Daniels. The university sent its response to the allegations to the NCAA last week and expects the case to be heard by the NCAA Committee on Infractions by late summer.

The infractions committee has barred the Runnin' Rebels from postseason competition and television appearances during the 1991-92 season as a final penalty in the infractions case that prompted Tarkanian to take the NCAA to court in 1977.

In his letter of resignation to Maxson, Tarkanian cited the toll that his long-running battle with the NCAA has taken on his family and indicated that the publicity generated by the Perry photos was the "final straw."

Said Tarkanian in his letter: "I love this university, and do not want to cause it any harm. In addition, although I have been toughened over the years by the pressures of these battles, the pain I now see in my children's eyes makes me realize none of this is fun for anyone."

Despite the strain, Tarkanian said he felt obligated to coach another season at UNLV because of his concern for his assistant coaches' job opportunities at this point in the year and his determination to deal with the NCAA charges.

Tarkanian, 60, denied reports that he will have NBA front-office or coaching jobs waiting for him when he leaves UNLV.

"I love coaching, I really do," he said. "But I'm getting older. I don't know what's going to happen."

Tarkanian has two years remaining on a contract that pays him more than $400,000 a year in base salary and complimentary tickets to UNLV basketball games. However, under terms of the resignation agreement, the university will not be required to buy out the final year of the contract.

The university also will not be required to fulfill additional financial obligations to Tarkanian stemming from his position as a senior assistant athletic director and a tenured university employee, Maxson said.

"The truth of the matter is this is the way Jerry wanted to do it," Maxson said. "This was his request to me, and I honored that request. . . .

"Coach did not ask for any money [in settling with UNLV]. Coach voided the last year of his contract, gave up his [tenured] professorship and agreed to coach next year so we can have an orderly transition process."

Names sure to surface in the Rebels' hunt for a new coach are Georgetown coach John Thompson, who visits Las Vegas frequently and owns property in the city, and Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins, who was coaching at Appalachian State in North Carolina when Maxson was a dean at that school 13 years ago.

The coaching search will not begin, however, until the NCAA investigation is resolved, Maxson said.

Tarkanian chronology

March 23, 1973: Jerry Tarkanian became UNLV coach after five years at Long Beach State.

Aug. 25, 1977: The NCAA announced a two-year probation for UNLV's basketball program for "questionable practices" during 1971-75. The NCAA also recommended that Tarkanian be severed from the athletic program during the probationary period.

Sept. 7, 1977: UNLV informed Tarkanian that he was suspended from his athletic duties. The next day, Tarkanian filed a lawsuit and obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting the university from imposing the suspension.

Sept. 26, 1977: A Nevada county judge issued a permanent injunction prohibiting UNLV from suspending Tarkanian.

Dec. 12, 1988: After the initial decision had been upheld and reversed by lower courts, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that left intact Tarkanian's injunction against the suspension.

July 20, 1990: The NCAA banned UNLV from defending its national basketball championship.

Nov. 29, 1990: UNLV accepted an offer by the NCAA that delayed penalties for a season.

Dec. 18, 1990: The NCAA filed a letter of inquiry alleging 29 infractions by UNLV.

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