LITTLE ROCK, ARK. Nolan Richardson's race discrimination lawsuit against Arkansas was dismissed Thursday by a federal judge who said the case was mostly about "wounded pride."
The basketball coach was fired March 1, 2002. He filed suit claiming he was fired because he is black and that his free-speech rights were violated.
"This lawsuit is not about money in the pejorative sense," U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson wrote in his ruling. "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, perseverance."
Wilson 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."
The judge sided with the university on the timing of the firing. He said the decision to fire Richardson was made on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2002, the day after he commented: "If they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take the job tomorrow."
Wilson said the decision was not made after Richardson made racially charged comments at a Monday news conference, as Richardson had contended.
Wilson said because the firing didn't violate constitutional or statutory standards, the matter should remain under university control. Still, he said the university could have communicated its concerns better before firing Richardson.