Technically, there is one more step to go.
In reality, what should have been done years ago is already a sure thing.
Today, it was announced the Arkansas Razorback athletic department will name the court of Bud Walton Arena after Nolan Richardson, the only coach to lead the Razorbacks to a basketball national championship. Hours later, the Razorbacks went out and put a 40 Minutes of Hell-style thrashin’ on Vandy.
The technical side: U of A 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 Richardson, who led the Hogs to three Final Fours from 1990 to 1995.
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.
The reality side: Razorback athletic director Hunter Yurachek would not release the below public comment unless he already knew which way the vote will go. Rest assured, the UA is not going to embarrass itself by public announcing the possibility of a Nolan renaming without it actually happening.
“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 Yurachek, also a UA vice chancellor. “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.”
Here are some of the achievements Nolan Richardson achieved as head coach:
- Led Hogs to an overall record of 389-169 ( a school record for wins)
- Arkansas to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances including six Sweet 16s (1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996), four Elite Eights (1990, 1991, 1994, 1995), three Final Fours (1990, 1994, 1995) a national runner-up finish (1995) and the 1994 NCAA Championship, the first in school history.
- 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.
Overall, Richardson coached 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.
I was the only Arkansas-based journalist to report on Richardson’s induction into the Naismith hall of fame. My report from Springfield, Massachusetts became part of my book “African-American Athletes in Arkansas.” Click below to preview it.