Jim Tarman, 89, who in his 11 years as Penn State’s athletic director ushered the Nittany Lions into the Big Ten Conference, helped in the transition of women’s athletics to the NCAA and oversaw expansion and construction of facilities, died Sunday in State College, Pa.
Mr. Tarman worked in Penn State’s athletic department for 36 years, beginning in 1958 as its sports publicity director. He became known to Nittany Lions football fans statewide as co-host of TV Quarterbacks from 1967 to 1982, and an analyst on the Penn State football radio network from 1971 to 1979.
Mr. Tarman became associate athletic director in 1973. When head football coach Joe Paterno added the title of athletic director in 1980, Mr. Tarman took over what the university called “the entire administrative range of Penn State’s athletic programs.” He succeeded Paterno as athletic director in March 1982.
Penn State won six national championships during Mr. Tarman’s tenure as athletic director, including the 1982 and 1986 titles in football. The university also won national championships in women’s lacrosse, and men’s and women’s fencing.
After years as an independent in football, Penn State sought conference membership in the late 1980s and Mr. Tarman helped position it for the Big Ten. Presidents voted to admit Penn State in 1989 and the university received an official invitation to join the conference on June 4, 1990.
“Jim was a passionate, dedicated and highly influential member of the intercollegiate athletics and university staff,” athletic director Sandy Barbour said. “Jim played a significant role in the growth of our athletic programs, including leading our women’s programs into NCAA competition, new and improved facilities for student athletes and our invitation and transition into the Big Ten Conference.”
Mr. Tarman led a subsequent move to upgrade facilities, adding more than 10,000 seats to Beaver Stadium in 1991 and beginning planning and construction of the Bryce Jordan Center, which opened in January 1996.
Mr. Tarman also was active in assisting the university’s athletic programs for women move from the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) to the NCAA in 1982.
A native of York, Mr. Tarman served in the U.S. Army from 1946 to 1948. He was a 1952 graduate of Gettysburg College, where he worked as public relations director for four years. He also served as sports information director at Princeton before coming to Penn State.
He is survived by his wife, Louise; his sons, Jeff and Jim, along with Jim’s wife, Elizabeth Vastine, and one grandchild, Emilee.
Visitation will be conducted Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Koch’s Funeral Home, 2401 South Atherton St., State College. Funeral services will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 205 South Garner St., State College.
Contributions may be made to the Jim and Louise Tarman Football Scholarship (payable to Penn State University), 149 Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa. 16802; or the James and Louise Tarman Endowed Scholarship Fund (payable to Gettysburg College), Gettysburg College, Campus Box 423, Gettysburg, Pa. 17325.