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October 1, 2014

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Former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian in hospital

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian receives a standing ovation during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass.

Updated Thursday, April 10, 2014 | 11:12 a.m.

Jerry Tarkanian

Former UNLV Men's Basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian bites his nails during a press conference. Launch slideshow »

Former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian has been hospitalized in Las Vegas after he started having breathing difficulties Saturday while in Dallas for the Final Four.

He was tested for pneumonia before the trip, but the results were negative and he was cleared to travel, his son Danny Tarkanian said.

Jerry Tarkanian was in Dallas to cheer for Kentucky, whose coach, John Calipari, is a close friend. Tarkanian was a special guest at Kentucky’s practice on Friday, but he watched the team’s national semifinal game from his hotel the following day after he started feeling weak, his son said.

The symptoms didn’t improve once he returned to Las Vegas. And on Wednesday, when he was struggling to keep his eyes open, he was taken to Valley Hospital, Danny Tarkanian said.

Jerry Tarkanian was sedated at the hospital, and doctors are trying to determine what is behind his condition.

Danny Tarkanian said doctors ran a CT scan to test for a stroke. The elder Tarkanian has fluid in his lungs and his heart isn’t working at full strength, his son said.

“Maybe it’s a variety (of problems) causing the weakness,” Danny Tarkanian said. “They’re trying to get him stable and taking a bunch of tests.”

Tarkanian is the godfather of UNLV basketball. In 19 seasons, he coached the Rebels to four Final Four appearances and the 1990 national championship.

As soon as word starting spreading Wednesday about the coach’s condition, fans took to Twitter to show their support, using the hashtag #PrayforTark.

Danny Tarkanian and his three siblings have also been flooded with calls of encouragement.

“That means a lot,” Danny Tarkanian said.

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