Wednesday, April 1, 1998 | 1:58 a.m.
The NCAA has agreed to pay former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it conspired to drive him out of the university, informed sources said today.
A check was expected to be handed over to Tarkanian's lawyer Thursday prior to a news conference in Los Angeles announcing the unprecedented settlement, sources said.
Los Angeles attorney Terry Giles, who represents Tarkanian, has indicated the NCAA has never before paid money to anyone who has sued the organization.
The settlement has ended years of legal wrangling between the NCAA and Tarkanian, now-Fresno State University's head coach.
Tarkanian's wife, Lois Tarkanian, today said she considers the agreement a vindication for her husband and others at UNLV who were caught up in the campaign to drive the coach from the university.
Tarkanian in the 1994 suit accused UNLV of conspiring with the NCAA, long at odds with the coach, to force his ouster.
The case was scheduled to go to trial May 18 in the courtroom of Senior District Judge Carl Christensen, but that has been canceled because of the settlement that he said came after a weekend of mediation.
Christensen said Wednesday the two sides met with a mediator from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and hammered out the deal that put a halt to the expected eight-week trial.
Christensen said he had been told of the deal a week ago and commented, "It was the hardest thing I've ever kept secret."
Tarkanian left UNLV in 1992 after 19 years at the helm of the basketball program. His 1990 team won the national championship.
Before leaving, Tarkanian accused former UNLV President Bob Maxson of orchestrating his demise.
The rift between Maxson and Tarkanian split the Las Vegas community and brought national publicity to the university.
Maxson now is president of Long Beach State University, where Tarkanian coached before coming to UNLV.
Tarkanian settled out of court with UNLV several years ago.