UNLV president Robert Maxson has denied reports he wants to get rid of Runnin' Rebels basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian in the wake of the team's loss at the Final Four and NCAA sanctions.
The stories began appearing after UNLV, unbeaten in 45 games and a heavy favorite to repeat as national champion, lost to Duke in Saturday's semifinals.The National reported that friends of Tarkanian have said Maxson was out to get him in an ongoing power struggle at the university.
"The National article is absolutely ridiculous," Maxson said Monday. "I think it's insulting, but probably most important, it's totally inaccurate. To say that to lose a ballgame to Duke would be the catalyst to get rid of a coach, in the first place is insulting to me and it's insulting to coach Tarkanian.
"My understanding is that the quotes were from people who were friends of the basketball program and that the game could do coach Tarkanian in. That's an insult to the way we run this university. And that virtually the whole paper was devoted to the story serves no one well."
Maxson appeared less certain when appearing on a national TV show Sunday. When asked if Tarkanian would be staying as coach, Maxson said that was a personnel matter.
Meanwhile, Tarkanian says he's probably staying.
"I'm definitely planning on staying," he said. "I have no intention of leaving. However, if I have an outstanding offer from the right professional team, I'd have to consider it."
Tarkanian called the chance of going with a pro club an "outside possibility."
Tarkanian said the talk of his possible departure has hurt recruiting for next year's team, which will be decimated by graduation and faced with NCAA sanctions that include no TV games and no postseason play.