Judge Dismisses Richardson Suit

A federal judge in Little Rock announced Thursday that he had ruled in favor of the University of Arkansas in the law suit filed by former basketball coach Nolan Richardson.

Federal judge Bill Wilson ruled Thursday in favor of the University of Arkansas in the lawsuit of fired basketball coach Nolan Richardson. Wilson dismissed the race discrimination case against the UA, but said he understood why Richardson felt wounded.

"This lawsuit is not about money in the perjorative sense," said U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson. "It is primarily about wounded pride -- wounded pride in a man who started way behind, but climbed to the top by hard work, savvy, and most of all, perseverence."

Richardson was fired March 1, 2002. He filed suit claiming he was fired because he is black and that his free-speech rights were violated.

Wilson dismissed the case, with both sides paying their own attorney's fees. The judge dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning Richardson could appeal, but not refile the case in a lower court. There were no comments at the court house from Richardson's attorneys concerning a possible appeal.

"I am satisfied....that coach Richardson believes without any doubt in his mind that he was fired because of his race and because he spoke out on that subject," the judge's 47-page decision said. "Although I found against him on those points, his belief was clearly not unreasonable."

The judge said there was not enough evidence of racial bias or violation of free speech, but "the record is a long way from devoid of incidents which could cause him to hold these beliefs."

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