Jerry Tarkanian officially was invited to join the Naismith Hall of Fame on Monday afternoon at a ceremony in Atlanta. He’ll become an actual member in September at an induction ceremony in September.
This honor was a long-time coming. ‘Tark the Shark’ won 729 games in his 34 year career, with 706 of those coming at the Division I level. He essentially built the UNLV basketball program, creating the Runnin’ Rebels and leading them to four Final Four and a national title in 1990. His first Final Four in 1977 came just seven years after the program went Division I. His UNLV teams in the early ’90s will go down as one of the best college basketball teams of all-time.
So why wasn’t the Shark in the Hall of Fame already?
Well, its simple, really.
He’s got a laundry list of NCAA issues. He’s had games vacated. He has twice taken legal action against the NCAA, with one of those lawsuits resulting in the restructuring of the the way the NCAA handles enforcement. Tarkanian is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. An innovator. But the problem was that he was painted as a cheat, as a black mark on the integrity of the NCAA. Why would anyone want to reward one of the most notorious outlaws of amateur athletics?
But there is a powerful anti-NCAA movement going on across the country these days. After seeing what happened with Miami, USC, Penn State and UCLA, the view that voters have of the Shark is starting to change.
Maybe he’s not the villain.
Maybe he was actually the guy that was fighting the good fight all those years ago.
This honor was overdue. Tarkanian’s health is failing. Good on the voters to allow him to experience this.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.