Las Vegas to Dim Strip Lights in Honor of Ex-UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian

The Las Vegas-style tribute has honored Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy

The bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip are expected to dim this week for deceased University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian.

The uniquely Las Vegas tribute has honored Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. Tarkanian, credited with elevating Las Vegas to the national stage for college basketball, died Feb. 11 at age 84. His family hosted a private funeral service Monday at Our Lady of Las Vegas.

Most Strip casinos have agreed to dim their nonessential exterior bulbs for a few minutes starting at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in a tribute to the Hall of Fame coach. The moment's timing is set to follow the end of a UNLV basketball home game against Boise State.

Casinos participating include all Caesars Entertainment Corp. and MGM Resorts properties on the Strip, The Cosmopolitan, Stratosphere, Tropicana and The Venetian and The Palazzo, according to the companies and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Off-Strip resorts including the Hard Rock Hotel and South Point casino also will join in, along with locals-only Station Casinos and the digital canopy above Fremont Street.

It might not have happened had it not been for a social media push by a pair of UNLV alumni, Tony Cordasco and Scott Gulbransen. The friends set up a Twitter account and Facebook page asking casinos to honor Coach Tark. It received such a groundswell of attention that local media picked up the story, adding momentum to their push.

Both said Tarkanian, who attended Pasadena City College in Southern California, deserved the fitting tribute reserved for a select crowd of influential figures, entertainers and an annual "Earth Hour" tribute.

"It will show people around the world what Las Vegas does for its own," Gulbransen said.

"This is our ticker-tape parade," Cordasco said.

The Las Vegas-style tribute marks a fitting recognition for an innovative coach who brought a fast-paced, showstopping style to UNLV. His teams' matchups became one of the biggest shows in town, beginning with his first Final Four squad in 1976-77.

That team scored more than 100 points in 23 games in an era that predated the shot clock and 3-point shot.

He coached the Runnin' Rebels to the 1990 national championship during a season when UNLV dazzled and dominated the competition.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.
 

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