“Jerry Tarkanian’s tremendous successes truly put UNLV on the map,” said Harter. “He not only developed a great basketball tradition with the Runnin’ Rebels, but also raised the national profile of the university as a result. It is fitting that our home court, so steeped in the winning, exciting spirit Coach Tarkanian brought to so many special UNLV teams, should also carry his name.”
During 19 years as UNLV’s head basketball coach (1973-1992), Jerry Tarkanian shaped an uptempo and aggressive Runnin’ Rebels style that captivated fans in Las Vegas, and across the nation. Posting a 509-105 (.829) record with the Rebels, Coach Tarkanian took four teams to the NCAA Final Four, winning the national championship in 1990 in a 103-73 runaway over Duke – the highest margin of victory in NCAA tournament championship game history. A member of UNLV’s athletic hall of fame, Tarkanian is one of only two coaches to see his number retired. Tarkanian, known to fans as the towel-chewing “Tark the Shark,” never had a losing season while at UNLV.
At UNLV, Tarkanian coached 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, including a string of nine straight. He was an eight-time conference coach of the year and was named UPI’s National Coach of the Year in 1983.
“Coach Tarkanian is a one-of-a-kind living legend, whose tenacity, cunning strategy and take-no-prisoners winning attitude will always be synonymous with Rebel basketball,” said Hamrick. “Tark assisted many outstanding athletes over the years, and his style has been emulated by many coaches. We are extremely proud to honor all that he has brought to UNLV, and to college basketball as a whole.”
“I have always had a great love for UNLV and have taken great pride in the Thomas & Mack Center,” Tarkanian said. “During our time there, we helped build it into one of the great arenas in the country. Our fans packed it every night and they were as vocal and supportive as any in college basketball. Many great memories were made in that building. I consider this to be one of the highest honors I could ever receive and I am grateful to and want to thank President Carol Harter and Athletics Director Mike Hamrick as well as all of the university community.”
Over 31 seasons as a Division I head coach, Tarkanian amassed 729 wins, with just 201 losses for a career winning percentage of .784, ranking seventh all-time among NCAA Division I men’s basketball coaches. His 729 wins ranks 12th in NCAA history.
Tarkanian had 25 seasons with 20 or more wins, which ranks fifth on the all-time charts, and is one of just nine coaches all-time to record four or more seasons with 30 wins (he had four all with UNLV). Additionally, Tarkanian was the second fastest coach to reach 700 career wins, behind only Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp.
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 27,000 students and 2,900 faculty and staff. Founded in 1957, the university offers more than 220 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs. UNLV is located on a 332-acre campus in dynamic Southern Nevada and is classified in the category of Research Universities (high research activity) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.