Claremore Daily Progress

April 8, 2014

Ex-Arkansas hoops coach Nolan Richardson named to Hall of Fame

CNHI News Services
CNHI News Services

DALLAS — Already a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, former Arkansas and Tulsa men’s coach Nolan Richardson will join another family of basketball royalty as he was named one of 10 members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for the Class of 2014, announced on Monday at the Final Four in North Texas.

Joining Richardson in the 2014 Class is Immaculata University’s AIAW National Championship teams of the early 1970s, seven-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning, six-time NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond and NCAA National Championship coach Gary Williams.

The 72-year-old Rich-ardson couldn’t share the moment with daughter Yvonne Richardson and son Nolan Richardson III. His daughter died of leukemia at 15, and his son and former assistant coach was found dead at his home in Tulsa two years ago at the age of 47.

Richardson also remembered several Texas Western teammates who had died.

“I know they would be so happy and delighted,” Richardson said. “I ask the good Lord to give them the message that things are good and I’ve done all right.”

Richardson began his coaching career in 1968 at El Paso Bowie High School. In 1978, Richardson was named coach at Western Texas College and led the Westerners to the NJCAA championship in 1980.

On year later, Richardson took over the Goden Hurricane program and put the program on the national map, guiding Tulsa to the 1981 NIT championship, becoming the first African-American coach to win that tournament.

During his tenure at Tulsa, Richardson’s teams won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season titles in 1984 and 1985, along with the MVC Tournament championships in 1982 and 1984. He had a 119-37 record while at Tulsa.

In 1985, Richardson was named the coach at Arkansas, replacing Eddie Sutton, who was among the finalists not elected to the hall, and would stay for 17 seasons. In his first season, the Razorbacks finished 12-16.

In year two he had Arkansas back in the post season with an NIT berth. By year three he had Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament where the Hogs would stay for 13 of the next 15 seasons. In all, Arkansas, under Richardson, enjoyed 15 postseason appearances during the 17 seasons of his tenure.

He led Arkansas to three Final Fours – losing to Duke in the semifinals in 1990, winning the national championship in 1994 against Duke, and losing in the championship game to UCLA in 1995. He was named the National Coach of the Year in 1994. Richardson's Arkansas teams averaged 27 wins per season during the decade of the 1990s, they were the winningest team of the decade until 1997, and their 270 wins from 1990 to 1999 were more than all but four programs in the NCAA. Nolan's legendary Arkansas teams recorded a 20 win season twelve times as well as four 30 win seasons during his 17 years.

Richardson left Arkansas in 2002 with a career record of 509-206. In 2009, Richardson took over the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA and 11 games into his second season, he resigned with a 7-38 record.

The 2014 Class will be honored August 7-9 in Springfield, Mass., during the Enshrinement Ceremonies.