The Fresno State campus remembers legendary basketball player and coach Jerry Tarkanian, who passed away at the age of 84 Wednesday morning in Las Vegas.
“We are saddened today at Fresno State by the news of the passing of the legendary Jerry Tarkanian,” Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro said at Wednesday’s press conference. “He was a good friend, a mentor, a great coach, a great citizen of the Central Valley and beyond. I want to express our condolences to Lois and his entire family. They were so very kind to Mary and I when I became president, and I appreciate that very much.”
Tarkanian, who was commonly referred to as “Tark” or “Coach Tark,” played at Fresno State from 1954 to 1955. He returned in 1995 to coach his alma mater and officially retired in 2002. He led the ‘Dogs to a 104-79 record and seven postseason trips in his seven seasons with the team. Six of those seven resulted in 20-win seasons.
Tark also coached at UNLV from 1973 to 1992. During his tenure with the Rebels, he helped lead them to a national championship in 1990 by beating Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils 103-73, which marked the largest winning margin in NCAA championship game history. With Tarkanian at the helm, the Rebels made 18 trips to the NCAA tournament, including four Final Four appearances.
His overall coaching record of 706-198 and his .803 winning percentage ranks fourth best all-time. Tarkanian was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and had his No. 2 jersey retired on March 1, when the Bulldogs hosted a nationally ranked San Diego State team.
“We lost a giant not only in the coaching profession but as a person,” Fresno State head men’s basketball coach Rodney Terry said. “Upon getting the job here, he was one of the first people who called me to congratulate me. What I was so fond of was his story telling and his genuine personality. I’m glad we were able to embrace him here while he was still with us and do what we did in terms of honoring him here at the Save Mart Center last year when we retired his jersey.
“He had great memories of being a player here and being a coach here. We lost a giant that impacted so many lives, and that’s what I look at, the lives that he impacted. He helped turn his players into men, and they had a lot of fondness towards him. That’s the legacy you want to leave, and he was a great man in doing that.”
Tarkanian to be honored this weekend
- Fresno State will fly national and state flags at half-staff on Monday, Feb. 16 in memory of Jerry Tarkanian.
- In honor of the legendary coach, there will be a moment of silence at Saturday’s men’s basketball game versus Boise State and a video tribute will be displayed at halftime.
- Also at the game, fans will have the opportunity to sign cards next to Coach Tarkanian’s legacy display on the northwest concourse of the Save Mart Center for the Tarkanian family.
- Bulldogs’ head coach Rodney Terry will leave an empty seat on the bench at the game and place a white towel in the empty seat, similar to one Coach Tarkanian used at all of his games. Along with that, the Fresno State men’s basketball team will add a “Tark” patch to its jerseys starting Saturday.
- The marquees at Cedar and Barstow avenues and the Save Mart Center (Shaw and Chestnut avenues) are displaying graphics honoring Coach Tarkanian.
The Tarkanian family requests that donations in his memory be made to Fresno State’s Armenian studies program, said Amy Tarkanian, the coach’s daughter-in-law.
Donations can be made online at https://www.fresnostate.edu/advancement/giving/givenow.html (check the “Other” box and type in “Tarkanian”).
Or checks — payable to Fresno State Foundation (memo: Gift in Memory of Coach Tarkanian) — may be mailed to: Office of University Development, California State University, Fresno, 5244 N. Jackson Ave., M/S KC45, Fresno, California 93740-8023