David White

Fresno State basketball should be proud it didn’t make this list

Coach Jerry Tarkanian, yelling at a referee in his final game at Fresno State, could equal his on-court emotion when it came to his dealings with the NCAA. Tarkanian sued the NCAA after it forced his resignation from UNLV – and the NCAA paid him a $2.5 million out-of-court settlement.
Coach Jerry Tarkanian, yelling at a referee in his final game at Fresno State, could equal his on-court emotion when it came to his dealings with the NCAA. Tarkanian sued the NCAA after it forced his resignation from UNLV – and the NCAA paid him a $2.5 million out-of-court settlement. Fresno Bee file

The Shark was right. Everyone’s up to their elbows in this hustle.

Such was the great and late Jerry Tarkanian’s retort when the NCAA came after his men’s basketball empire, whether at Long Beach State, UNLV or Fresno State.

How come the pitchforks and torches always came to his door when the palaces up the road were giving away so much more than two-dollar rice bowls?

towel
Jerry Tarkanian bites on his towel as he watches Fresno State’s 81-65 loss to Michigan State int he 2001 NCAA Tournament. JOHN BAZEMORE Associated Press file

They all cheat, the Shark would say, and man if the towel sucker wasn’t just about right. Remember that every time CBS lionizes a national champion coach to the tune of “One Shining Moment.”

Duke. Louisville. Kentucky. They all made the FBI list of schools that gave potential impermissible benefits and preferential treatment for players and families, according to last week’s report by Yahoo! Sports.

North Carolina. Kansas. Alabama. They’re all named as schools connected to AAU kingpin and agent Christian Dawkins, who is suspected of running a pay-to-sign scheme between high school stars and their highest-bidding schools of higher learning.

No. 1-ranked Virginia. No. 2 Michigan State. Ten of the current top-15 have been implicated.

Know which program didn’t make the first round of suspects?

Fresno State. Being on the outside of the Who’s Who Club never felt so good.

Utah made the naughty list. So did USC. Next time the Bulldogs play the Trojans, can we wave a sign that says, “Our maids work for bosses who got illegally paid to go to USC”?

So what if Fresno State hasn’t run with the haves for almost two decades. Last time the Bulldogs tried to keep up with the big dogs, they ended up on double probation with less room and board to go around the locker room.

rodney terry
Going into Saturday night’s home regular-season finale against Wyoming, Fresno State coach Rodney Terry was 125-105 in seven seasons with the Bulldogs – and no NCAA penalties. Hayne Palmour IV TNS

Good for Bulldogs coach Rodney Terry for not being roped into this amorphic blob of institutional malfeasance. Next time you want to complain Fresno State doesn’t land all-planet recruits, think about the going rate for those players.

They just aren’t worth it.

Let Louisville have the memories of a national title that no longer counts. We’d just like for the local U to retain its dignity while winning 20 games a year. (Which, by the way, it has done now in three straight seasons.)

ray lopes
Ray Lopes was 50-37 in three seasons as Fresno State coach but resigned after the 2004-05 season because of NCAA recruiting violations. KURT HEGRE Fresno Bee file

Yes, Fresno State built the Save Mart Center during the Tarkanian-Ray Lopes detention era. To say it was worth the trouble is to ignore the tarped-off upper deck and unoccupied swaths of lower-bowl seats for most home games.

Maybe Fresno State is more honorable than the rest. Maybe it just can’t afford under-the-table payoffs in its everlasting budget crisis. All we know is it’s nice to know that “CSI: Fresno State” hasn’t aired in more than a decade.

Let everyone else be a cheat. At this rate, Fresno State might make the Sweet 16 by virtue of being one of the 16 eligible schools left.

As for those who say this isn’t a big deal, “everyone does it” is as valid an argument here as it is in traffic court. Let us know what the judge says. We’ll all share a good laugh.

The players and coaches and all their underlings signed up under the rules. They have to follow the rules. So what if these kids make colleges millions of dollars? When they want to be the ones making millions, go to the NBA. When they want to get paid to play ball, go to eastern Europe with the Ball marketing team.

You can call Tark a rule breaker all you want. Just don’t act like he’s someone special because of it. Alone, he wasn’t, just like he said.

Three-point stance

1. If the Fresno State sports department is always saying goodbye to its employees, it’s because they got away from hiring local two athletic directors ago. It’s that much more reason to celebrate Steve Toon, who just hit Season 36 running the scoreboard at Beiden Field. May he punch many more zeros on the visiting team’s linescore.

2. No. 9 Sunnyside High knocked top-seeded Clovis West out of the boys basketball playoffs. Long live Fresno Unified sports.

3. Golden State remains the best team in the NBA, no matter what the record says. If the Warriors have any flaws, it’s that they are too easily bored with the regular season. If you want to wring hands for good reason, go be a Cavs fan.

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