University of Arkansas Chancellor Joe Steinmetz has submitted a resolution for consideration by the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees to name the court at Bud Walton Arena in honor of Nolan Richardson.
Arkansas lawmakers also filed a resolution Wednesday (March 6) requesting the court be named after Richardson.
The resolution, backed by 16 lawmakers including Senators Greg Leding and Joyce Elliott, aims to “recognize and honor the significant impact of Coach Richardson on Arkansas athletics.”
Senator Leding says he remembers watching the 1994 Championship game and says the impact Richardson has had on the Razorbacks is something people in the state will never forget.
“These are some very important memories to Arkansans all across the state and we just think it’s time that he is honored,” Leding said. “Arkansas fans are very passionate we love our teams win or lose and again that 94 championship was something really special to a lot of people and coach Richardson was instrumental in the building of the program and to a national team and we think he should be honored and we can’t wait to see it happen”
Richardson, 77, is a College Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and long-time Arkansas men’s basketball head coach.
The resolution to name the floor Nolan Richardson Court will be considered at this month’s Board of Trustees meeting on March 27-28 in Hot Springs.
“Coach Nolan Richardson led the Razorbacks to 13 NCAA Tournaments, including back-to-back Final Fours and the 1994 National Championship, as well as multiple conference and conference tournament championships,” said Hunter Yurachek, vice chancellor and director of athletics. “Just this past weekend during our 25th-anniversary celebration of the NCAA title, I had the opportunity to witness the tremendous passion, excitement and affection Coach Richardson engenders among our former players, coaches and fans. And while I know many anticipated that we would utilize the anniversary of that championship to recognize Coach Richardson, his legacy is much larger than a single team or a single championship. We wanted all of his players, assistant coaches, staff members and Razorback fans to have an opportunity to join us next season as we formally dedicate Nolan Richardson Court.”
“Coach Nolan Richardson is not only a true Razorback legend, he is one of the most impactful coaches in the history of college basketball,” Steinmetz said. “In his 17 years at the University of Arkansas, he not only led the Razorbacks to unprecedented success, but also used his position in college basketball to help change the world around him. As the first African-American head coach in the Southwest Conference, he was a trailblazer helping to provide opportunities for many others to follow in his footsteps.”
He also coached Arkansas to five conference championships including three in the Southwest Conference (1988-89, 1989-90, 1990-91) along with SWC tournament championships in the same seasons; two Southeastern Conference championships (1991-92, 1993-94), an SEC Western Division title (1994-95), and three trips to the SEC tournament championship including an SEC tournament title in 2000.
In his 22 combined years as a head coach at the collegiate level — at Western Texas Junior College, the University of Tulsa and the University of Arkansas — he compiled a record of 508-206 (.711) and became the only head coach in college basketball history to win a National Junior College Championship, NIT Championship and NCAA Championship.
Coach Richardson was elected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 1996 and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. He was also honored with a banner in Bud Walton Arena in 2015.
He was fired as head coach in 2002 amid a public feud with university officials. Richardson claimed that he was being mistreated because of his race.
The relationship between Richardson and the university has healed over the years and many have called for the court to be named in his honor.