After losing in the nation's highest court, Nevada-Las Vegas basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian now finds the ball firmly in the NCAA's court.
Tarkanian, who lost a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday capping his 12-year fight against the NCAA, now must wait and see if the NCAA follows through on its original plan to order UNLV to suspend him from coaching for two years for alleged recruiting violations.The NCAA isn't saying what it will do, but UNLV officials expressed optimism the organization will settle for a courtroom victory and drop any punitive action against Tarkanian.
"It is obvious that the principle that the NCAA is seeking has been upheld," UNLV President Robert Maxson said. "However, after 12 years, I would expect the NCAA not to pursue any action against Jerry Tarkanian."
"Coach Tarkanian has surely been through enough during this period of time and I have every reason to believe the NCAA will honor our appeal that they not pursue this matter."
Whether Tarkanian can even be suspended remains unclear, because the long-time coach is still protected by a state court injunction against the university suspending him.
Tarkanian's attorney, Mark Solomon, said the decision will not immediately affect Tarkanian because the injunction forces the university to have to provide the coach due process before making any attempt to suspend him.
Dick Shultz, executive director of the NCAA, declined comment on Tarkanian's future, saying the NCAA's infractions committee will meet at a later time to decide what to do in the case.
Shultz, however, issued a statement praising the decision for upholding the NCAA's right to take action against its member schools.
"The decision, we hope, will discourage lawsuits regarding alleged violations of federal constitutional rights," Schultz said. "We have always felt that the enforcement procedures set in place by the memberhsip provides ample due process."
Rex Lee, a former U.S. solicitor general hired by the NCAA to work on the case, said the NCAA now clearly has the right to order UNLV to show cause as to why Tarkanian should not be suspended.
Tarkanian conducted practice as usual Monday afternoon after spending part of the morning meeting with Maxson and athletic director Brad Rothermel over his future.
Asked to amplify on the comment, Tarkanian said, "I don't want to get into that right now."
UNLV officials said the 5-4 decision was unexpected and was under review.
The high court ruled Monday that the NCAA had the right to order the school to suspend Tarkanian for two years when the Runnin' Rebels were placed on two years probation in 1977 for a series of recruiting violations.
Tarkanian challenged the suspension in state district court and the Nevada Supreme Court, winning in both courts. The NCAA then appealed to the Supreme Court.