Richardson's Situation A Puzzle

FAYETTEVILLE -- Confusion about whether Nolan Richardson is the coach of Panama's national basketball team continued on Wednesday, following an Associated Press report on Tuesday that Richardson did not have a contract to coach the team.

Richardson, who coached Arkansas from 1985-2002, said last week that he looked forward to working with the Panama team.

But Miguel Sanchiz, secretary general of the Panamanian Basketball Federation, informed the AP by e-mail on Tuesday, "There have been conversations (with Richardson), but nothing official yet.

The Razorback Foundation would like to know Richardson's status with the Panama team.

Ken Mourton, chairman of the board and general counsel for the Razorback Foundation, said he was told by an AP reporter last week that Richardson had left for Panama.

According to an AP story on Tuesday, Richardson's lawyer, John Walker of Little Rock, also said last week that Richardson was on his way to Panama, to coach the national team in the Bolivian Games and the FIBA Americas championship tournaments this month.

Hernan Hernandez, the secretary general of basketball's governing body in Panama, told the AP last week that he had no details about Richardson's employment.

Mourton said on Wednesday, "We don't have any details, other than what was published. We have requested them by letter from John Walker, wanting to know the details of the employment, so we can decide what we want to do on mitigating this issue."

The Panama coaching job reportedly is not a paying position, other than expenses.

Sanchiz, however, said the Panamanian Basketball Federation doesn't have enough money to pay Richardson.

Sanchiz, after returning on Monday from a tournament in Venezuela, said Enrique Grenald is running the Panama team for now.

But Sanchiz did say the federation's governing board still needed to discuss Richardson's situation and it was still possible for the former NCAA championship-winning coach to lead the Panamanian squad.

Mourton, who returned to Fayetteville on Wednesday afternoon after having been out of town for two days, had not seen Wednesday's AP story about Richardson's situation.

"I had not heard anything about a contract (with the Panama federation)," Mourton said. "In (Richardson's) contract with the University of Arkansas, which we guaranteed and the Foundation is paying off, it requires him to make an effort to mitigate by seeking employment in the coaching field.

"If he obtains other employment, in effect the amount we pay is reduced by the amount he receives."

Asked if he'd heard what financial arrangement Richardson might have with the Panama Federation, if any, Mourton said, "We have no idea. That's what we want to find out."

Richardson could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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