Tarkanian reportedly entering final year


Jerry Tarkanian, college basketball's winningest coach, will step down at Nevada-Las Vegas after next season as part of a settlement with university officials, several sources said yesterday.

A source close to Tarkanian told The Dallas Morning News that Tarkanian would resign, following his closed-door session Monday with the university system's Board of Regents. The Associated Press also quoted three unnamed sources as confirming the settlement.

One university official, who asked not to be identified, said UNLV would hold a news conference tomorrow or Friday to make an announcement. The university official would not specify whether it would be to divulge a settlement with Tarkanian.

Tarkanian, his attorney Chuck Thompson, and university president Robert Maxson did not return phone calls yesterday.

UNLV athletic director Dennis Finfrock said he could neither confirm nor deny the parties had reached an agreement on Tarkanian's status. "No deal right now has been struck," Finfrock said.

Tarkanian, 483-103 since 1973 as UNLV's coach, has battled the NCAA repeatedly and increasingly has conflicted with Maxson.

The final straw may have been a 1989 photograph, published 10 days ago, showing former UNLV players Moses Scurry, David Butler and Anderson Hunt in a hot tub with Richard "The Fixer" Perry, twice convicted on federal charges of sports bribery.

A Las Vegas newspaper also published a photograph Friday showing Perry behind the Rebels' bench during a Dec. 22 game against Florida State.

Tarkanian has a 599-120 record in 23 seasons at UNLV and Long Beach State, and his .833 winning percentage is the highest in college history. He has said he warned his players to stay away from Perry, convicted in 1974 of fixing horse races in New York and also involved in the 1984 basketball point-shaving scandal at Boston College.

"I think the Perry thing pushed it through," one source said. "It was an inevitable ending . . . This made it come quicker. They're going to get hit with this Lloyd Daniels thing. Something is going to happen."

The NCAA has charged UNLV with 29 violations in its latest investigation, most centering on the recruitment of Daniels. UNLV brought Daniels from New York to Las Vegas, where he was arrested attempting to buy crack cocaine and never played a game for the Rebels.

UNLV has submitted a 300-page response to the charges, but the NCAA Committee on Infractions will not hear the case until Aug. 10-13 in Asheville, N.C. The Rebels, national champions in 1990, are banned from live television and postseason play next season because of violations committed in 1977. Additional penalties could follow.

Tarkanian, who turns 61 in August, was permitted to coach one more season to allow him to leave with some dignity and gain time to find another job, one source said.

"It will allow the university to go out and hire a big-name coach," the source told The Associated Press. "If you do something quickly, you don't have anybody to coach the team, you become sort of a joke as you try to field a team."

Tarkanian met five hours Monday at his request with the University of Nevada System Board of Regents. Although all parties seemed upbeat following the closed session, Tarkanian apparently did not secure his future at UNLV.

Finfrock said he could not comment on what was said.

"It was a good dialogue, a good exchange," he said.

Shelley Berkley, one of the 10 regents, said because the regents did not vote, she could not say they gave Tarkanian a vote of confidence.

"We let it be known that we support Dennis Finfrock and the president in whatever they need to do to support the university's integrity," Berkley said, adding her concern lies with UNLV's students. "We need to ensure that their degrees mean something when they get out."

Tarkanian has been rumored as a candidate for several NBA jobs and has said he has rejected pro offers in the past.

If Tarkanian and the university have reached a settlement, details of his contract still must be worked out, some sources indicated. Tarkanian has two years remaining on a three-year rollover deal, and UNLV must notify him by July 1 if it plans to renew the deal.

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