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Nolan Richardson

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Title: Nolan Richardson  
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Subject: Tulsa Shock, Mike Anderson (basketball), Corliss Williamson, Arkansas Razorbacks men's basketball, List of coaches in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Collection: 1941 Births, African-American Basketball Coaches, African-American Basketball Players, American Expatriate Basketball People in Mexico, Arkansas Razorbacks Men's Basketball Coaches, Basketball Players from Texas, College Men's Basketball Head Coaches in the United States, Junior College Men's Basketball Coaches in the United States, Living People, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees, National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees, Sportspeople from El Paso, Texas, Sportspeople from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tulsa Golden Hurricane Men's Basketball Coaches, Tulsa Shock Head Coaches, Utep Miners Basketball Players
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nolan Richardson

Nolan Richardson
Sport(s) Basketball
Current position
Title Head coach
Biographical details
Born (1941-12-27) December 27, 1941
El Paso, Texas
Playing career
1961–1964 UTEP
Position(s) Forward
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1968–1978 Bowie HS
1978–1981 Western Texas College
1981–1985 Tulsa
1985–2002 Arkansas
2009–2011 Tulsa Shock
2005–2007 Panama
2007 Mexico
Head coaching record
Overall 508-206 (.711)
Accomplishments and honors

NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship: (1994)
Regional Championships - Final Four (1990, 1994, 1995)
1981 NIT title
1980 NJCCA title
MVC Regular Season champion (1984, 1985)
MVC Tournament champion (1982, 1984)
SWC Regular Season championship (1989–1991)
SWC Tournament champion (1989,[1] 1990,[2] 1991[3])
SEC Regular Season champion (1992, 1994)
4× SEC Division champion (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)

SEC Tournament champion[4] (2000)[5]

1998 Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame [6]
1998 SEC Coach of the Year
1995 USBWA Most Courageous Award [7]
1994 NABC National Coach of the Year [8]

1994 Naismith Coach of the Year
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2014
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2008

Nolan Richardson, Jr. (born December 27, 1941) is an American basketball head coach best known for his tenure at the University of Arkansas, where he won the 1994 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Elected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014,[9] Richardson coached teams to winning a Division I Basketball National Championship, an NIT championship, and a Junior College National Championship, making him the only coach to win all three championships. During his 22 seasons of coaching in NCAA Division I, made a post-season tournament appearance 20 times.


  • Early life 1
  • Coaching career 2
    • Early years 2.1
    • University of Tulsa 2.2
  • University of Arkansas 3
    • University of Arkansas controversy 3.1
  • After the University of Arkansas 4
  • Head coaching record 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Richardson was born in El Segundo Barrio in El Paso, Texas, United States to Nolan Richardson Sr. and Clareast Richardson. Clareast died from a mysterious disease in 1944, leaving behind three children: Shirley, age 5, Nolan Jr., three, and Helen, six months. Eventually they moved in with the children's grandmother, Rose Richardson or Ol' Mama. Ol' Mama had a profound impact on Nolan by helping instill the drive and determination to succeed. Nolan's father would visit, but often did not live with the family, battling alcoholism for much of his adult life.[10]

Nolan Richardson played collegiately at Texas Western College, now the University of Texas at El Paso, playing his junior and senior years under the school's new coach, future Basketball Hall of Famer Don Haskins.

Coaching career

Early years

Richardson began his coaching career at Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas. He then moved to Western Texas College, where he won the National Junior College championship in 1980.

University of Tulsa

He was the head coach at Tulsa from 1981 to 1985, leading Tulsa to the NIT championship in 1981. This was the first time an African American coach won an NIT championship. Nolan Richardson is credited with bringing the Tulsa program to national prominence when hired in 1980, and he led the school to the aforementioned 1981 NIT Championship as well as season conference championships in 1984 and 1985, along with conference tournament titles in 1982 and 1984. Nolan had a .763 winning percentage at the school. He became the first coach in NCAA history to win 50 games in his first two seasons. While coaching at Tulsa, Richardson became known for wearing an assortment of polka dot ties. This trademark eventually led Tulsa students to don polka dots during home games.

University of Arkansas

In 1985, Richardson became the head coach at the University of Arkansas after Eddie Sutton left for Kentucky. Richardson became the first African-American coach at a major university in the South, and the first African-American head coach of a men's program in the SWC. He inherited a team and program that was used to Sutton's halfcourt-oriented, walk-it-up-the-court style. Richardson's frenetic, up-tempo system was something new to Arkansas fans, and people questioned it after finishing 12-16 his first season. However, by year two he had Arkansas back in the post season with an NIT berth. By year three he had Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament. The Hogs would stay there for 13 of the next 15 seasons. In all, Arkansas under Richardson enjoyed 15 post season 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.

His teams typically played an up tempo game with intense pressure defense - a style that was known as "40 Minutes of Hell." In 2012 his coaching philosophy was featured in the documentary "40 Minutes of Hell" on ESPN as part of the network's SEC Storied series. He is the winningest Basketball coach in Arkansas history, compiling a 389-169 (.697) record in 17 seasons. He is the only head coach to win a Junior College National Championship, the NIT Championship, and the NCAA Championship. Nolan Richardson is also among an elite group including Roy Williams, Denny Crum, Jim Boeheim, and Tubby Smith as the only head coaches to win 365 games in 15 seasons or less.

University of Arkansas controversy

Richardson frequently spoke out about the negative stereotypes that he and other black coaches faced while coaching at Arkansas. It came to a head in February 2002, when he spoke out against the administration at the University of Arkansas and its fans. He claimed that he was being mistreated because of his race, and challenged Athletic Director Frank Broyles to ruffle feathers by declaring "if they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take my job tomorrow.” [11] Shortly thereafter, Arkansas dismissed Richardson as head coach. In December 2002, Richardson filed a lawsuit against the University, the Board of Trustees, and the Razorback Foundation, citing a racially discriminatory environment; the lawsuit was dismissed in July 2004. The Razorbacks have only made the NCAA Tournament three times since Richardson's departure, and have never gotten further than the second round.

After the University of Arkansas

From 2005 to 2007, Richardson, (who speaks fluent Spanish) served as the head coach of the Panama national team. In March 2007, Richardson was named as the head coach of the Mexico national basketball team.

In the middle of 2009, Richardson was named as head coach and general manager of a prospective WNBA expansion team in Tulsa. While it seemed unusual to hire a coach before securing an actual berth in the league, the investors behind the expansion effort claimed this proved they were serious about wanting a team. On October 20, 2009, the Tulsa group bought the Detroit Shock and moved it to Tulsa as the Tulsa Shock. It was Richardson's first time as a professional head coach, as well as his first time coaching women.

Richardson's tenure with the Shock was far from successful. His first season ended before it began when key players who had led the Shock to three WNBA titles opted, for various reasons, not to make the move to Tulsa. This forced Richardson to try to build the team around disgraced Olympic track star Marion Jones, who hadn't played a meaningful basketball game since her college days 13 years earlier. The players also found it difficult to adjust to Richardson's frantic style. A lack of continuity plagued the team as well; all of the players who had come from Detroit had left the team by the middle of the season, and Richardson seemingly juggled the roster on a game-by-game basis. The final result was a dreadful 6-28 record, dead last in the league. Richardson tried to rebuild the team by coaxing Sheryl Swoopes out of retirement, but after a 1-10 start, Richardson resigned on July 8, 2011.[12]

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Tulsa (Missouri Valley Conference) (1980–1985)
1980–81 Tulsa 26–7 15–0 T–2nd NIT Champions
1981–82 Tulsa 24–6 12–4 T–2nd NCAA First Round
1982–83 Tulsa 19–12 11–7 T–3rd NIT First Round
1983–84 Tulsa 27–4 13–3 T–1st NCAA First Round
1984–85 Tulsa 23–8 12–4 1st NCAA First Round
Tulsa: 119–37 (.763) 63–18 (.778)
Arkansas (Southwest Conference) (1985–1991)
1985–86 Arkansas 12–16 4–12 7th
1986–87 Arkansas 19–14 8–8 5th NIT Second Round
1987–88 Arkansas 21–9 11–5 T–2nd NCAA First Round
1988–89 Arkansas 25–7 13–3 1st NCAA Second Round
1989–90 Arkansas 30–5 14–2 1st NCAA Final Four
1990–91 Arkansas 34–4 15–1 1st NCAA Elite Eight
Arkansas: 65–31 (.677)
Arkansas (Southeastern Conference) (1991–2002)
1991–92 Arkansas 26–8 13–3 1st (West) NCAA Second Round
1992–93 Arkansas 22–9 10–6 1st (West) NCAA Sweet 16
1993–94 Arkansas 31–3 14–2 1st (West) NCAA Champion
1994–95 Arkansas 32–7 12–4 T–1st (West) NCAA Runner-Up
1995–96 Arkansas 20–13 9–7 T–2nd (West) NCAA Sweet 16
1996–97 Arkansas 18–14 8–8 2nd (West) NIT Final Four
1997–98 Arkansas 24–9 11–5 2nd (West) NCAA Second Round
1998–99 Arkansas 23–11 9–7 2nd (West) NCAA Second Round
1999–00 Arkansas 19–15 7–9 3rd (West) NCAA First Round
2000–01 Arkansas 20–11 10–6 2nd (West) NCAA First Round
2001–02 Arkansas 13–14† 5–10† T–4th (West)
Arkansas: 389–169 (.697) 108–67 (.617)
Total: 508–206 (.711)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

†Was replaced by interim before end of season.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Coaching Awards
  9. ^ Winderman, Ira (April 7, 2014). "'"It's official: Mourning, Richmond to enter Hall; Zo: 'I'm humbled. South Florida Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. 
  10. ^ Bradburd, Rus. Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson. New York: Amistad, 2010.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Longman, Jere. Leaving Detroit for Tulsa, the Shock Lost Their Way. New York Times, 2011-09-05.

External links

  • Arkansas bio (2000)
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