Jerry "Tark the Shark" Tarkanian led the 1990 UNLV "Runnin' Rebels" to winning the NCAA national championship. He is a Naismith Hall of Fame inductee and celebrated as one of the most revolutionary college coaches in NCAA history.
Legendary Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame coach, Jerry “Tark the Shark” Tarkanian, was the son of Armenian immigrants who migrated to the United States after the Armenian genocide. In 1990, he led UNLV to winning the NCAA national championship. Though he came from humble beginnings, he went on to become one of the most revolutionary and celebrated college coaches in NCAA history.
Jerry Tarkanian was born in Ohio to Rose and George Tarkanian. After the passing of George, Rose moved the Tarkanian family to California. Jerry attended college at Pasadena City College and played during 1950-51 season. Tarkanian transferred to Fresno State (where he would later coach) and played for the Bulldogs during the 1954-55 season. After graduation from Fresno State, Tarkanian earned a masters degree from the University of Redlands.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Tarkanian coached basketball at the high school and college levels — including at San Joaquin Memorial High School, Antelope Valley High School, Redlands High School, Riverside City College, and Pasadena City College.
Tarkanian went on to coach at Long Beach State, where Tarkanian rebelled against college recruiting practices by assembling a team composed almost entirely of junior college athletes from diverse backgrounds. Under Coach Tark’s leadership, the Long Beach State 49ers reached four NCAA tournaments.
In 1973, Tarkanian left Long Beach State for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. At UNLV, Tark the Shark led the Rebels to four NCAA Final Fours. In 1990, the Runnin Rebels defeated Duke in the championship and claimed the national title.
After a brief stint as coach for the San Antonio Spurs, Tarkanian moved to Fresno to coach the team at his alma mater, Fresno State. He led the Bulldogs to six consecutive 20-win seasons. His son, Danny Tarkanian, joined him as an assistant coach.
In 2003, Jerry and Danny Tarkanian co-founded the Tarkanian Basketball Academy – the premiere sports facility in Las Vegas. TBA continues its mission to teach kids the life lessons learned through playing sports.
In 2013, Jerry Tarkanian was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Jerry Tarkanian passed away on February 11, 2015. In tribute, the lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor. He is survived by his wife Lois (Las Vegas City Councilwoman), four children, and ten grandchildren.