That was March 1973.
Four days after Tarkanian left Long Beach, Brown of the NCAA sent a letter to that school notifying it of an "official inquiry" into the football and basketball programs. Nine months later. Long Beach was put on indefinite probation.
"They had football nailed," Tarkanian says. "They didn't have anything serious on [basketball], but the school tried to shift the blame on me after I left. I laughed when I first heard they were investigating us. We didn't have any money to buy players with. The cheerleaders were making sack lunches for the team on road games...." Tarkanian apparently doesn't consider phony test scores to be serious.
Tarkanian opens the door and walks into the house and calls "Lois?" No answer. He moves from room to room, calling his wife's name, then opens the back door and calls her again. There is a large pool in back; behind it are piled huge slabs of granite. To one side of the pool is a statue of the Virgin Mary, who's got a little pool of her own.
"That's my wife's," he says. "She's very religious."
Lois Tarkanian comes into the house a few minutes later, carrying groceries, and Jerry is relieved to see her in a way that is out of proportion to the time she has been missing. He has depended on her a long time and in a lot of ways.
He refers questions about his own family's history to her, for instance, because it makes him sad to think of it himself. "The Turks massacred everybody but my mother," he'd said earlier. "She barely got out, she had to ride on a horse. My wife knows more about it than me. It's too sad, I don't think about it...."
His mother's name was Rose. She was Armenian. He does not know anything of her early life beyond the Turkish massacre. She came to the U.S. in the early '20s. His father was named George and worked in an automobile plant, and then he bought a little grocery store outside Cleveland that the family ran. George Tarkanian died when Jerry was 11, and Rose remarried and moved the family from Euclid, Ohio, to Pasadena. Jerry has a younger brother, Myron, with whom he is close, and an older sister, Alice, he rarely sees.
"My sister's one of those ladies that pull hair out of your face so it don't grow back," he says.
The brother is tennis coach at Pasadena City College.