Court Rejects Defendants’ Shot in Richardson Case

May 22, 2004

Former University of Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson survived a motion for summary judgment brought by the defendants in his wrongful termination case when a federal judge denied the motion.
Defendants UA President B. Alan Sugg, Chancellor John White, Athletic Director Frank Broyles and the nonprofit Arkansas Razorback Foundation had argued in the motion that the employment contract Richardson signed barred him from legally challenging his firing. However, the court concluded that the defendants could not be granted immunity from illegal acts, such as the alleged racial discrimination and freedom-of-speech violations.
“If I find the language of the general release,” wrote District Judge William R. Wilson, Jr. “acts as a bar to prospective claims, would this not mean that once Nolan Richardson signed the Employment Agreement, the University could take any illegal act of discrimination it wished affecting his employment? Employers should not be in the business of buying future civil rights, and employees should not be subjected to pressure to sell rights guaranteed by the Constitution or Act of Congress.”
Richardson is seeking reinstatement as coach, lost wages and damages for harm to his reputation, mental and emotional stress, and legal fees.


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