LAS VEGAS, NOV. 30 -- University of Nevada-Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian is still upset with the NCAA despite an unprecedented reprieve that will allow the Runnin' Rebels to defend their national title.

Tarkanian said today he never should have been targeted by the NCAA. "It's kind of sad in a way," said Tarkanian, preparing the top-ranked Rebels for their season opener Saturday against Alabama-Birmingham. "I'm very happy this year's team can play. But I'm disappointed next year's team won't be able to play.

"It's not fair that next year's team has to sit out. It wasn't fair in 1977 and it's not fair now. You can't argue with the NCAA. It gets to the point that you're happy if you get anything from them."

The NCAA Infractions Committee agreed Thursday to allow the Rebels to compete in postseason play next spring, reversing an edict handed down July 20 that would have banned the club. The Rebels return four starters from the team that whipped Duke, 103-73, to win the title.

The university agreed to accept a penalty proposed by the committee that will allow the Rebels to defend their title, but will prohibit the 1991-92 team from live television or postseason play. The decision prompted an outcry from some schools, including Kansas, the 1988 national champion which was banned from defending its title because of NCAA violations.

"It's probably better," Tarkanian said. "At least it gives this year's kids a chance. They're a group of very special kids, and they deserve a chance to defend their title."

UNLV was cited for a series of violations in 1977, four years after Tarkanian came to the school.