Jerry Tarkanian (August 8, 1930 – February 11, 2015) was an American basketball coach. He coached college basketball for 31 seasons over five decades at three schools. He spent the majority of his career coaching with the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, leading them four times to the Final Four of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, winning the national championship in 1990. Tarkanian revolutionized the college game at UNLV, utilizing a pressing defense to fuel its fast-paced offense. Overall, he won over 700 games in his career, and only twice failed to win 20 games in a season. Tarkanian was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Tarkanian went to college at Pasadena City College and later Fresno State, earning a bachelor's degree while playing basketball. He was a head coach at the high school level before becoming a successful junior college coach, and returned to Pasadena City College and led them to a state championship. In 1968, he moved to a four-year college at Long Beach State College. Tarkanian established a successful program built on former junior college players, who were typically considered second-rate by other four-year programs. He was also the rare coach that dared to start a predominantly black lineup. He compiled a 122–20 record over five years at Long Beach before moving to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He transformed the small program into a national powerhouse while granting his players the freedom to express themselves. Known for his colorful behavior and affectionately referred to as "Tark the Shark", Tarkanian became a celebrity in Las Vegas. He left the Runnin' Rebels for a brief stint coaching professionally with the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association (NBA) before finishing his career at his alma mater, Fresno State.
Throughout his career, he battled accusations of rules violations from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), with each of his three universities suffering penalties. Tarkanian responded by challenging the organization to also investigate larger and more powerful universities. The NCAA ordered UNLV to suspend him in 1977, but he sued the NCAA and continued coaching while the case was pending. The Supreme Court ruled against him in 1988, but he remained UNLV's coach after a settlement with the NCAA. Tarkanian sued them again in 1992, and the case was settled when he received $2.5 million in 1998.
He is also known as Jerry Esther Tarkanian.