Former California State University, Fresno coach Dr. Ara Hairabedian of Fresno has been inducted into the Armenian-American Sports Hall of Fame.
Hairabedian, a national gymnastics champion, coached football, men’s swimming and men’s water polo for 25 years at Fresno State.
He joins Fresno State’s head basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, who was inducted into the hall of fame in 1982. Tarkanian was one of Hairabedian’s students in 1955.
Other Armenian-Americans previously inducted were Ed Kezerian, assistant athletic director at UCLA, former Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian, auto racer J.C. Agajanian, professional football player and coach Ben Agajanian, professional football player Garo Yepremenian, Stanford University football great Gary Kerkorian.
Hairabedian was the National AAU Gymnastics Champion in 1950 and 1951 in the Floor Exercise event while representing the University of Southern California. He taught and coached gymnastics, physical education and football at Pennsylvania State University and San Diegito High School.
He joined the Fresno State staff in 1953 as assistant football coach, started the men’s swimming team in 1954 and the men’s water polo team in 1958. He received the Master Coach Award from the NCAA in 1978.
Hairabedian, who received his doctorate in Education from Stanford in 1965, was instrumental in starting the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State with the late Dr. Louise Nalbandian in 1969.
Hairabedian was a member of the California State Athletic Commission, served a term as chairman and was acting CEO in 1991.
He retired from Fresno State in 1993 and teaches part time on occasion in the Department of Kinesiology. He also works as head timer at Fresno State home football games.