Jerry Tarkanian helped lead UNLV to a national championship in 1990. (Photo courtesy of UNLV Athletics)

Jerry Tarkanian helped lead UNLV to a national championship in 1990. (Photo courtesy of UNLV Athletics)

By Lukas Eggen Ely Times Staff Writer

Former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian can add the one accomplishment that has eluded him all these years: the hall of fame. Tarkanian was selected on Monday to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

“It’s a real exciting time for me,” Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Tarkanian joins NBA All-Star Gary Payton, current Louisville coach Rick Pitino, WNBA’s Dawn Staley, five-time NCAA final four coach Guy Lewis, the NBA’s Bernard King and three-time national coach of the year Sylvia Hatchell.

“The Hall of Fame is proud to recognize this distinguished group of coaches, players and contributors to the game of basketball,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Each person in this group has rightfully earned their spot in the Hall of Fame and we look forward to honoring them in Springfield during this Enshrinement Ceremonies in September.”

Finalists needed 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Hall of Fame. The Class of 2013 will be enshrined on Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass.

“The Class of 2013 is one of the most distinguished groups that the Hall of Fame has ever inducted at one time,” said Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board. “These individuals span decades of the game and have impacted the sport on every level.”

Tarkanian led UNLV to a national championship in 1990 and Final Four appearances in 1977, 1987 and 1991. He had a record of 509-105 during his 19 seasons coaching the Rebels, helping UNLV to become one of the biggest basketball programs in the early 90s.

“Over the years, UNLV basketball has become a blueprint for success, which never could have happened without Coach Tarkanian,” Sen. Dean Heller said. “He is no doubt a living legend whose story of leadership is echoed in the countless players he coached, guided, and mentored, as well as in his many fans. In fact, when I was elected to Congress, I brought a basketball Coach Tarkanian signed many years ago to display in my office as a reminder of the positive influence he and his wife, Lois, have had on our community. Congratulations to Coach Tarkanian on the well-deserved Basketball Hall of Fame induction.”

Tarkanian also helped put Nevada collegiate athletics on the national map.

“Nobody has brought more recognition to Nevada athletics and UNLV than Coach Tarkanian,” Sen. Harry Reid said. “Jerry is a legendary coach and he was a mentor to so many individuals over the years. By bringing the best out of his players on and off the court, Jerry built a first-rate basketball program that Nevadans are fiercely proud of. After leading the Rebels to a national title, three showings in the Final Four, and after having an immensely successful record at UNLV and elsewhere, Jerry is clearly deserving of this auspicious honor. I congratulate him on being named to the Basketball Hall of Fame and I wish him the very best.”

Tarkanian’s induction to the hall of fame comes at a time when some thought it would never happen. Despite his achievements on the court, after winning the national title, a photo emerged of three UNLV players sitting in a hot tub with convicted point shaver Richard Perry. In 1993, UNLV agreed to 28 violations cited by the NCAA, the result of a six-year case surrounding the recruitment of Lloyd Daniels. In the nine months prior to the 1990 NCAA tournament, the NCAA investigated UNLV 11 times with 10 players suspended because of academic and rules infractions. Players, however, have said UNLV was unfairly targeted.

While there may have been controversey off the court, Tarkanian’s achievements on the court are among the most prestigious in NCAA basketball history. And after supporters spent years of wondering if Tarkanian would get in, the day has come.

“I think it validates everything I’ve done,” Tarkanian said to the Review-Journal.

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