Entertainment Law Reporter
September 2006 Volume 28 Number 4

Basketball coach Nolan Richardson wasn’t fired by University of Arkansas on account of his race, appeals court affirms

Former University of Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson wasn’t fired on account of his race, a federal Court of Appeals has affirmed. Richardson was the first African-American ever to serve as a Razorback head coach. And when he was fired, abruptly, in 2002, he alleged that he had been fired because he was Black, and because of remarks he had made about how difficult it was to recruit Black high school athletes to play at the University of Arkansas.

After an 18-day bench trial, Richardson lost. Federal District Judge Roy Wilson ruled that Richardson had not proved that he had been fired on account of his race or his race-related comments (ELR 26:7:10). On appeal, Richardson did no better.

The Court of Appeals’ own review of the evidence led it to the same conclusion reached by Judge Wilson – that “Richardson was not fired because of his race,” and that his “statement [about recruiting Blacks] was not a factor in his firing.” As a result, the appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of Richardson’s lawsuit.

Richardson v. Sugg, 448 F.3d 1046 , 2006 U.S.App.LEXIS 13131 (8th Cir. 2006 )