Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2023

UNLV basketball:

Tarkanian statue will feature legendary coach with towel in his mouth

An open seat next to the bronze statue will make it easy for fans to take pictures on the way into games

Jerry Tarkanin Legacy Project

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

This is the rendering of the statue that was unveiled during the announcement of the creation of The Jerry Tarkanian Legacy Project Wednesday, May 1, 2013.

Jerry Tarkanin Legacy Project

Coach Jerry Tarkanian smiles during the announcement of the creation of The Jerry Tarkanian Legacy Project, which includes a statue of Tarkanian and his ubiquitous towel,  Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

Jerry Tarkanian Statue

Las Vegas Sun sports editor Ray Brewer and UNLV beat writer Taylor Bern discuss the recent news about UNLV's plans for a statue of the legendary coach outside of the Thomas & Mack Center.

Jerry Tarkanian

UNLV players Moses Scurry, left, and Anderson Hunt hug coach Jerry Tarkanian after their 103-73 victory over Duke in the NCAA Final Four Championship game, April 2, 1990, in Denver. Launch slideshow »

A proposed statue of Jerry Tarkanian will show the legendary UNLV coach sitting on chair, towel in mouth, next to an open seat, it was revealed Wednesday.

UNLV held a press conference at the Richard Tam Alumni Center on campus to announce details of the Jerry Tarkanian Legacy Project. The Sun reported last week that it would include a statue of the Rebels’ former coach, who was recently inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The project will also include a scholarship in Tarkanian’s name, although specific details of that are still being worked out.

“It means a lot to my family and me and to the players who participated in building this program,” Tarkanian said.

The bronze statue, which is expected to be finished by July and unveiled outside of the Thomas & Mack Center shortly thereafter, will be approximately life size with Tarkanian sitting down in a folding chair, wearing his traditional short-sleeved shirt and tie. He’s holding the towel to his mouth in his right hand.

Tarkanian unveiled the rendering of the statue along with his son, Danny Tarkanian, UNLV President Neal Smatresk and Jim Ratigan, the executive director of the UNLV Alumni Association.

“This university and basketball are irrevocably linked (because of Jerry Tarkanian),” Smatresk said.

Danny Tarkanian said former UNLV athletic director Brad Rothermel was instrumental in getting the statue made, while it was Tina Kunzer-Murphy, the director of sponsorships and development at the UNLV Alumni Association, who spearheaded the scholarship idea.

New Jersey’s Brian P. Hanlon will sculpt the statue. He’s the official sculptor of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and has done several sports statues, in addition to regular city sculptures. Jerry Tarkanian will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass.

The project, which is expected to cost about $150,000, will be entirely funded by private donations. The group would like to also raise that much and more to endow the scholarship fund, which may be used to help former players who don’t graduate come back to get their degrees. People can donate at

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at

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