Foundation wants Richardson to return pay

Updated: January 1, 2004, 2:37 AM ET
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK -- Former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson says he didn't give up his right to sue over the university's decision to fire him, and he asked a federal judge to dismiss a counterclaim that the Razorback Foundation filed against him.

In a response to the counterclaim in Richardson's federal lawsuit, the former coach disagreed with arguments that he breached his contract when he sued the foundation over his March 1, 2002, firing.

Richardson noted that his employment agreement said the university recognizes the agreement is "binding and in compliance with all applicable laws, policies and regulations." He said he didn't waive his rights under the U.S. Constitution or civil rights laws.

He said that the foundation wasn't entitled to any relief and that the counterclaim should be dismissed.

Richardson, who led Arkansas to the 1994 NCAA title and to the 1995 championship game, was fired after 17 seasons as coach. University officials said Richardson was fired because he showed a lack of confidence in the program.

Richardson filed suit Dec. 19, 2002, against the university, three top officials and the Razorback Foundation, saying he was fired because he is black and outspoken.

A trial date tentatively has been set for May 3, 2004.

In its Dec. 10 counterclaim, the foundation asked the federal court either to require Richardson to return $874,000 that he's been paid through Dec. 1 to buy out the remainder of his contract, or to throw his lawsuit out of court.

The foundation began paying Richardson $500,000 per year after he was fired. Under the agreement, Richardson is to be paid a total $3.1 million.

In its counterclaim, the foundation said Richardson ratified the terms of the agreement by cashing his monthly checks for $41,666.66.

The foundation said Richardson "waived his rights to all payment under the agreement" by filing his lawsuit.

In addition to seeking return of the $874,000, the foundation also asked that Richardson pay its attorneys' fees.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press