Fresno State retires jersey in honor of Jerry Tarkanian

Fresno State retired a jersey in honor of Jerry Tarkanian, who is one of the most successful basketball coaches in campus history.
March 2, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A packed Save Mart Center welcomed home a Fresno State icon on Saturday night. The university retired a jersey in honor of Jerry Tarkanian -- one of the most successful basketball coaches in campus history.

Jerry Tarkanian coached Bulldog basketball for seven seasons starting in 1995. Back then, the team played in the Selland Arena, and many say there would be no Save Mart Center if it wasn't for coach Tark constantly selling out the home games.

Tarkanian -- now 83 years old -- walked onto the middle of the Save Mart Center on Saturday with more than 14,000 fans cheering on the Bulldog coaching legend. For some, it brought back memories

"I just remember going to the games with my dad and seeing coach Tarkanian, and it was a big deal," said Jeff Gatzaa.

"He brought a lot of excitement to the city," said Donna Conti.

Fresno State Vice President Peter Smits presented the Tarkanian family with a plaque. Then, all eyes turned to the rafters as Fresno State retired his jersey. The iconic coach also played for Fresno State in the 1950s and wore the No. 2.

"It's a wonderful tribute to my father. And you know, when you get to be the age that he's at, with his health failing like it is, these types of nights mean so much more," said Danny Tarkanian, Jerry Tarkanian's son.

Tarkanian led the Bulldogs to seven post-seasons during his time at Fresno State -- bringing national attention to Bulldog basketball.

"I remember the days in Selland Arena when you couldn't get a ticket; it was very, very exciting," said Smits. "And to have him back now is very special to not only the university but the whole community."

Many call the Save Mart Center the "house that Tark built," and on Saturday, his name was ringing throughout.

Fresno State officials say that jersey will be a permanent fixture in the rafters. They also wanted to point out it was a jersey retirement, not a number retirement. There will be future Fresno State players to wear the No. 2 on the court.

This was the largest turnout for a Fresno State basketball game this season. The San Diego State Aztecs beat the Fresno State Bulldogs, 82-67.


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