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Tark The Shark

March 12, 2015

Somewhat lost, especially here in North Carolina due to the passing of Dean Smith, was the realization that Jerry Tarkanian also passed away recently.

Like Smith, Tarkanian was a legendary coach at the college level. Unlike Smith, he was a polarizing coach, a maverick who did things his way. And that is how he will be remembered.

Tarkanian took UNLV to four Final Fours and won the 1990 national championship utilizing players peers such as Dean Smith or Bob Knight never would have recruited.

Tarkanian & his likeness, in Las Vegas

He gave second chances to talented prospects with criminal records or shaky academic histories. He got them into college and taught them a high-flying, high-scoring, action-packed style of play characterized by a stifling full-court press that fueled most of the offense.

Constantly running afoul of the NCAA probably prevented Tarkanian from receiving the recognition for his accomplishments that many of his contemporaries did. It wasn’t until after Tarkanian’s health started failing him the past few years that UNLV finally erected a statue of him with his customary towel in his mouth outside the Thomas & Mack Center and he was finally inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Tarkanian also was remembered by the community of Las Vegas. When he died, they dimmed all the lights along the Strip in Las Vegas. He was the eighth person so recognized. Included within the list were two presidents, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were so honored, as were Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

March Madness Dampened

It is March Madness time. This usually means it is time for the NCAA to take those to court who are violating their copyright of that phrase.

There is a little different kind of madness within college basketball in 2015. A cloud stemming from the fallout of rules violations from two of the major programs in the country.

Locally, everyone is waiting to see what the NCAA does to UNC. The Heels may have learned something from what went down with Syracuse last week. Until last week, Jim Boeheim was only known as a coaching legend at Syracuse and as one of the best-ever coaches in the nation. Over the years Boeheim repeatedly won Big East championships, and regional championships resulting in four Final Four appearances. It was not until 2003 that his team won an NCAA championship and when it did, it was a popular title as fans across the country felt Boeheim deserved it.

Times have changed. The Orange are now on probation. It turns out that cash and gifts have been given to players from boosters and that there have been grade changes.

Joe Boeheim of Syracuse

In its report released last week the NCAA found that the for over a decade, Syracuse had not controlled nor monitored its athletic programs, and that the head coach had failed to monitor his “program.”

Boeheim, now in his 70s. is not going to step away from the game. He has said he will be back. As with most major college coaches, Boeheim is virtually untouchable and clearly a more important figure on campus than the university president.

What is remarkable in this current version of March Madness is how many other major “programs” are under fire. The NCAA will be returning to the North Carolina case of massive academic fraud soon and another big name coach, Roy Williams, will be put in the spotlight.

Down the road from the University of North Carolina, even Duke University is under a shadow, as is its head coach Mike Krzyzewski. There are questions how Coach K handled a sexual offense allegation made against one of his players. The alleged incident occurred over a year ago.

One thing is clear. The temptation to win and amass huge amounts of money is intense. The relationship of elite college athletics to the educational mission of a university is tenuous at best.

The scandals at Syracuse and North Carolina, the shadows over Duke, the many scandals of the past and future will continue. Only the names will change. The only thing that ultimately will vanish is the integrity of American higher education. Some people would call that madness, no matter what month it is.

Tiger Sells Out

Tiger Woods is back in the news and it is not from his play on the golf course. I find the following story quite amazing. Did you know that Tiger has to ask for permission to use his own name.

Yes, it is true. Woods has sold out so much to corporate America that he has to receive permission from Nike to use his own name. Here is how this came to light.

Nike’s Tiger Woods

Woods is opening a new restaurant in Jupiter, Florida. He wants to name it the Woods Jupiter: Sports and Dining Club. He may or may not get his wish. It turns how that Nike as the rights to the name Tiger Woods, which is preventing Woods from using his first and last name in a restaurant name.

Yes, Nike owns the name Tiger Woods which means they own the person Tiger Woods. He cannot use his own name on his own business ventures. Crazy.
























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