What might go down as Jerry Tarkanian's biggest win came at a heavy personal cost.
More than two decades after he and the NCAA first locked horns, Tarkanian was expected Thursday to formally settle a fight with the NCAA that left him battered but not beaten."They totally beat the hell out of me," Tarkanian said. "But I would never give up. I was going to fight this forever if I had to."
The NCAA and Tarkanian planned to announce Thursday a settlement of his suit that claims the NCAA manufactured evidence against his basketball programs in an attempt to run him out of coaching.
Tarkanian will get $2.5 million from the organization, and sources familiar with the case said the NCAA also will issue a conciliatory statement in which it says it regrets the battle.
Tarkanian's wife, Lois, confirmed the settlement figure Wednesday and proclaimed it a win for the oft-beleaguered coach.
"We felt it was an amount that showed we had victory in this case," she said.
Settlement of the seven-year-old suit was reached one month before it was to go to trial here, the city where he had coached for almost 20 years. Tarkanian, branded an outlaw coach in the dispute, had contended the NCAA targeted his teams at Long Beach State and UNLV.
"They can never, ever, make up for all the pain and agony they caused me," Tarkanian said Wednesday, speaking by phone from Fresno, Calif., where he coaches the Fresno State team.
While not admitting liability, the statement from the NCAA will say the organization regrets the dispute, which began 26 years ago when Tarkanian was still coaching at Long Beach State, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The NCAA declined comment on the settlement, saying executive director Cedric Dempsey would talk about it Thursday.
Tarkanian's attorney, Terry Giles, said he was preparing to go to trial May 18 when he was approached about a settlement a few weeks ago by the NCAA.
Giles said testimony from former players, officials and lawyers would have shown that, except for one minor infraction, the NCAA had no evidence to back up probations given to basketball programs at Long Beach and UNLV.
"We felt very confident about our case for seven years," Giles said.