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Tarkanian dies at age 84

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Updated 10 months ago on
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Hall of Fame basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, who led the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels to a national title, died Wednesday. He was 84.

His son, Danny Tarkanian, said on Twitter:

“Coach Tark, my father, the greatest man I have ever known, passed today, to take his place in heaven. I will miss him every day of my life.”

Tarkanian had been in a Las Vegas hospital since Monday night after experiencing breathing difficulties and an infection. The Naismith Hall of Famer was transported by ambulance to Valley Hospital Medical Center from his home after his blood oxygen levels dropped.

The towel-chewing coach, known as “Tark the Shark,” finished his career with 729 wins across all levels.

Tarkanian guided three schools to the NCAA tournament and posted a 729-201 career record in 31 years at the Division I level. His UNLV team won the national championship in 1990 and he compiled a 509-105 record at the school in 19 seasons.

Tarkanian’s teams were known for their fast-paced style that often led to blowouts. His Runnin’ Rebels defeated Duke 103-73 in the 1990 NCAA title game.

Tarkanian began his Division I coaching career at Long Beach State and ended his career at Fresno State, where Tarkanian himself played in 1954 and 1955. Only twice did his teams fail to win at least 20 games in a season.

Tarkanian was hired as head coach at Long Beach state in 1968 before coaching UNLV from 1973-92, resigning when the program ran into trouble with the NCAA. He coached the San Antonio Spurs for the first 20 games of the 1992 season before being fired. He coached at Fresno State from 1995 to 2002.

Tarkanian collectied a $2.5 million settlement after suing the NCAA for trying to run him out of college basketball. In 2013, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

Since his retirement in 2002, Tarkanian dealt with several health-related issues, including pneumonia in November and a second heart attack last April.

Tarkanian’s passing comes days after legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith died Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C., at age 83.

“It’s another sad day for those who love college basketball and the people who have contributed so much to our game,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said in a statement Wednesday. “‘Tark’ was a great coach, better than people gave him credit for, and he loved college basketball.”

Tributes poured in via Twitter to honor Tark:

— “RIP, Coach #Tark.” — UNLV Athletics

— “Today we lost a Long Beach State legend with the passing of Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Tarkanian. Thoughts go out from the entire Beach family.” — LBSU Athletics

— “Fresno State mourns the passing of basketball legend Jerry Tarkanian.” — Fresno State Bulldogs

— “HOF coach & great friend Jerry Tarkanian has passed away. We’ve lost two icons in the same week. Sad week for all who love this great game.” — John Calipari

— “John Wooden once recommended Tarkanian for the Indiana job that eventually went to Bob Knight.” — Seth Davis

— “Coach Tark was a difference maker to all of us. Life changer. Legend. RIP, Coach Tark.” — Dave Rice

— “The basketball world lost another giant today. May you rest in peace coach Tarkanian.” — George Karl

— “Heaven is fielding an unbelievable coaching roster, RIP Coach Jerry Tarkanian, one of the best.” — Reggie Miller

— “No one in NV history has been able to entertain crowds like Jerry. He was fearless in taking on the brutal NCAA and he put UNLV on the map.” — Sen. Harry Reid

— “Our condolences to Jerry Tarkanian family. Hard to believe CBB has lost 2 of top 10 winningest coaches in matter of days. 1608 combined W’s.” — North Carolina basketball

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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