Jerry Tarkanian's friends offer a dubious bounty
When last we left beleaguered UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, he and the university had agreed that he would step down after next season. The news came on June 7, 12 days after the Las Vegas Review-Journal published photographs showing three Runnin' Rebel players sitting in a hot tub with Richard (the Fixer) Perry and playing basketball with Perry in his driveway (SCORECARD, June 17). Perry has twice been convicted on charges of sports bribery, and while Tarkanian says he warned his players to stay away from Perry, the photos, taken in 1989, were the last straws as far as UNLV was concerned.
Last week a group of Tarkanian's supporters again focused the spotlight on the lame-duck coach. The Committee to Uncover the Tarkanian Conspiracy placed an ad, in the style of an Old West wanted poster, in the Las Vegas Sun. The ad, which the Review-Journal refused to run, offered two $5,000 rewards: one to anyone with "verifiable information concerning the name of the person who received these photographs at the University," and the second for identifying "the person who delivered the photographs" to the paper, and "the person at the University who caused the delivery of these pictures to the Review-Journal."
Clearly, the committee believes that some university official gave the photos to the paper to embarrass Tarkanian and force him out. The committee's theory is absurd. With the UNLV basketball program about to go on NCAA probation and with 29 more alleged rules violations hanging over its head, Tarkanian has done more than enough to embarrass himself and the university. Incidentally, Tarkanian has said he does not believe any conspiracy exists.
The committee's bounty could be laughed off if it wasn't so dangerous. Perry is a reputed associate of the Lucchese crime family, and while there is no apparent connection between Perry and the committee, Perry just might like to find out who sent the photos to the newspaper. The source of the photos, whose identity has been protected by the Review-Journal, was quoted in the paper last week as saying that the reward offer "could only mislead the public and possibly cause harm to innocent people, not to mention me physically."
So far, the only member of the committee to step forward is Freddie Glusman, its organizer. A Las Vegas restaurateur, Glusman is a friend of Tarkanian's who, according to an investigation by the Nevada attorney general's office, controlled at least 38 season tickets to Runnin' Rebel games during the '89-90 season. The Sun quoted Glusman as asking, "Why would [the Review-Journal] refuse this ad unless they had something to do with orchestrating the coach's demise? Why don't they want to see the truth? Who are they covering up for?"
The Review-Journal provided an answer to the deluded Glusman in an editorial: "The management...rejected the ad on the grounds of long-standing journalistic principles, compassion, common decency and concern for the very life of the news source."
Tarkanian would do well to distance himself from the committee. With friends like those, he doesn't need enemies.