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June 13, 2021

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HBO Sports begins production on ‘Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV’ documentary

Set to debut in March, film will center around controversial Tarkanian Era

March Madness

Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

Former Runnin’ Rebel star Larry Johnson laughs while Jerry Tarkanian chomps on a towel during “Tark the Shark Day” at the Tropicana on March 17, 2010.

Folks in Las Vegas love to reminisce about the Jerry Tarkanian Era of UNLV basketball.

Well, they'll get more to devour come March, as HBO Sports announced Tuesday it has begun production of "Runnin' Rebels of UNLV," a documentary of the program under the controversial head coach.

HBO's will revisit the period from 1973 to 1992 and will debut in March on the eve of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

"The Runnin' Rebels' impact on college basketball is indisputable," said HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg. "Their accomplishments on the court made them royalty in Las Vegas, and their glamorous approach made them media stars nationally, but their coach's enduring battle with the NCAA eventually triggered the end of the dynasty. We are going to chronicle their story, providing an in-depth portrait of the main characters who lit up the desert."

The era, of course, peaked in the early 1990s. On the heels of winning the 1990 NCAA title, the Rebels, behind stars like Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony, went undefeated in the 1990-91 regular season before falling to Duke in the Final Four, 79-77.

The documentary will center around Tarkanian, who compiled a 509-105 record in his time at UNLV, but constantly was hounded by the NCAA. The issues with the organization ultimately were put to bed in 1998, when Tarkanian took a $2.5 million out-of-court settlement with the NCAA, who he claimed had tried to drive him from college basketball.

HBO Sports' documentary group has earned 30 Sports Emmy Awards and eight Peabody Awards over the years. Its past college basketball projects include "Battle for Tobacco Road: Duke vs. Carolina," "The UCLA Dynasty," "Perfect Upset: The 1985 Villanova vs. Georgetown NCAA Championship" and "City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball Scandal."

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