Richardson case finally reaches court

(May 5, 2004) - (Little Rock-AP) -- Proceedings have gotten underway in former basketball coach Nolan Richardson's lawsuit against the University of Arkansas. Richardson was fired late in the season in 2002. He later filed suit in U-S District Court in Little Rock, claiming the university discriminated against him. The case is being heard without a jury before federal District Judge William Wilson, Junior. On Monday, Wilson denied a final request by the university to dismiss the lawsuit. Yesterday, he declined to release the Arkansas athletic department's funding arm, the Razorback Foundation, from the lawsuit as well. Athletic director Frank Broyles and U of A Chancellor John A- White are also named in the suit. Richardson gave a hint as to how contentious his court fight against the university might be when school officials asked him to resign the day before firing the basketball coach in 2002. According to notes athletic director Frank Broyles made after a February 28th, 2002, meeting, Richardson told him, "I will destroy you. You will have no legacy. I know enough on you that you will have no legacy when I get through. I will have a better legacy than you will." White's notes closely mirror Broyles' recollection. Whether the judge allows things to get ugly is another matter. In an order, Wilson said he will rule on the relevance of testimony as the trial progresses. He set a 25-minute time limit on the lawyers' opening statements. Richardson wants Wilson to declare that the university punished him for exercising his freedom of speech and subjected him to racial discrimination. Richardson believes he was fired because he's black and for speaking out about issues of race. He seeks lost wages and damages for harm to his reputation, mental and emotional stress, and legal fees. Richardson also seeks reinstatement as coach, however, he said he wouldn't return if White and Broyles still had their jobs.