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Monday, March 26, 2007
Ex-Razorbacks disagrees with Heath's firing

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK -- Nolan Richardson had some advice for Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles after basketball coach Stan Heath was fired Monday.

"Frank Broyles ought to take the job," Richardson said. "Hell, he can win with the team [Heath is] leaving."

Richardson coached the Razorbacks for 17 seasons before being fired in 2002. Heath followed Richardson and lasted five seasons before losing the job himself.

Arkansas missed the NCAA Tournament its first three seasons under Heath, then lost in the first round in 2006 and 2007. Richardson said Heath should have been brought back for at least another season.

"I thought he deserved another year" Richardson said."Just to finish out his class and not let some other coach come in and take what he's already beginning to start."

Arkansas had no seniors on this season's team and several promising freshmen -- including Southeastern Conference newcomer of the year Patrick Beverley.

"God almighty, what do you need?" Richardson said. "I just feel bad that he didn't get a chance to coach them all the way out. I thought maybe next year, if he didn't get to where they wanted to be, then maybe that's the time to go."

Arkansas fired Richardson in 2002 after the coach said toward the end of a frustrating season, "If they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take the job tomorrow." Broyles said he interpreted the remark as a sign that Richardson had lost faith in the program.

Richardson subsequently sued, saying Arkansas discriminated against him because he is black and outspoken. A federal judge ruled against Richardson, as did the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

While discussing Heath, Richardson brought up the Razorbacks' football program. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt endured losing seasons in 2004 and 2005 but was not fired.

"I still see a big difference between football," Richardson said. "They lost two years in a row, and still that didn't happen."

Nutt's Razorbacks went 10-4 in 2006.