Coach Nolan Richardson will be honored during Final Four this weekend. The legendary coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks initiated the “Forty Minutes of Hell” defense that took his team to the NCAA Championship in 1994. In 22 years with the Razorbacks, he went to the tournament 20 times.
Richardson was also a member of the legendary Texas Western squad, the first all-Black starting five to win a National Championship in 1966. Richardson will be honored with the 20 year commemoration of his championship win in North Texas, at the African American Museum at Fair Park in Dallas, also home to the Black Sports Hall of Fame.
The Tom Joyner Show caught up to Richardson and he talked about his legacy and who he’s got in this weekend’s Final Four.
What are you doing now?
What I do now is work harder than it seems I’ve ever worked in my life. My daughter passed away in the days when I first took the Arkansas job in 1987 from leukemia. And we have a foundation that’s been built in her name over the last 27 years. I’ve got about 35 charities over the years that I donate money to, so my #1 job right now is to go and start begging to help those that are less fortunate. Then I’m on a small mini-tour of motivational speaking. So I get the opportunity to be out with people.
Do you miss coaching?
I did. I did quite a bit. I had a chance to coach the women in my last episode when I went over to open up the Tulsa Shock. That was the crowning and ending moments of my coaching career. (laughs).
It’s a new environment now. One and done. Players come in, they play one year, then they go to the pros. That’s the new thing. Do you think you could coach now?
My first group to ever win with Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman (we won one, should have one two) and they still went ahead and forfeited their senior year and go hardship. But that was the first time I had any guys leave prior to their senior year. The trend was beginning at that point that they were going to be jumping ship. I know where I came from and I know how hard it is to not have basketball to have an opportunity to make a living and how tough it is, even with a degree in your pocket to find a job. I’m against the ones that are not ready to go, but if you can play – there’s no need to stay in school. You can buy a university with the kind of money they’re giving away today.
Should players get paid, given all the money they generate for a school?
I don’t think you should used the word paid. Back in the days when I played at UTEP or Texas Western, I think they gave us $15 a month. I know they give kids that qualify their grant money. But there’s no question they ought to be able to have a stipend. I get a kick out of them saying their student/athletes. That might not be true since they play at midnight, 2 o’clock in the morning. You got people on TV playing basketball all night long now. That’s not just a college student. Who do you like this weekend? I’m pulling for my man. (UConn coach Kevin Ollie) I call him Patches. You know – ‘We’re depending on you, son, to pull the family through.’ That’s Patches to me.
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