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Players from all eras on selection committee

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Nolan Richardson's dismissal two weeks before the NCAA tournament is likely to delay the search for his successor as the Arkansas basketball coach.

Most major college teams have a conference tournament this week and many of the 25-30 coaches on the list of athletic director Frank Broyles probably will be in the NCAA tournament the following week.

``That's the reason not much will be done until after the NCAA tournament,'' Broyles said.

On the other hand, Chancellor John White said, ``We have to get out of the box very quickly.'' He pointed out that other schools will soon be searching for a coach.

Broyles would not be specific about candidates, but made it clear that he would prefer a proven head coach.

``That's where we would start at any time,'' he said. ``There's probably 25 or 30 out there that we'll pursue.

``I want somebody with a dynamic personality who can recruit and serve the university in many, many ways other than coaching,'' Broyles said. ``We want a good team player for the university that can coordinate all of our coaches and be a part of a program.''

Mike Anderson, who played for Richardson at Tulsa and followed him to Arkansas 17 years ago, was the bench coach Saturday when the Razorbacks improved to 14-14 with an 81-67 victory over Vanderbilt. Anderson believes he has paid his dues.

``It has been my dream to become a head coach,'' he said. ``Under the circumstances, who knows what will happen.

``If you've been in this business long enough, you know you can never tell, but Brandon Dean told me I'm undefeated as a head coach,'' he said.

``Seventeen years (as an Arkansas assistant) he deserves every bit of consideration that we can give him,'' Broyles said.

Anderson will be the coach when Arkansas plays in the Southeastern Conference tournament this week at Atlanta and Broyles admitted that a tournament championship would put Anderson in prime position. Such a run seems unlikely.

If the Razorbacks beat Tennessee in the first round of the tournament, they would play Alabama. Anything past that would likely include the likes of Georgia or Kentucky or Florida.

Broyles said a committee of former Arkansas basketball players would help find a replacement for Richardson.

``We'll have players from the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's on an interview committee,'' Broyles added. ``It will be the same process we used to select (football coach) Houston Nutt. They will bring a recommendation to a facility committee and then to myself and John White.''

It is not clear how much weight would be attached to such a recommendation.

Broyles said he considers the Arkansas job one of the top five in the country. He also said the Razorbacks had had only two coaches (Eddie Sutton and Richardson) during the past 28 years and that few schools can make such a claim.

On Friday, the university announced that it would buy out the remaining six years of Richardson's contract at $500,000 per year.

White said Richardson's remark about being willing to accept a buyout got his attention. White said the day the remark was published that Richardson was the most competitive person he had known and that he thought the comment was made in the heat of the moment.

But White said Saturday he also heard that Richardson had made a similar statement in private during the previous week.

``So the thought that occurred to me was that Nolan was in a very difficult position because he had a long-term contact and that the only way that he could get out of it and have any kind of a financial payoff was if he got fired,'' White said. ``And I thought that was really unfortunate.

``If, in fact, he's at the point in his career where he's thinking about retiring .... (I thought) he should know that we could make that available to him.''

White said he asked Broyles' advice and that Broyles told him when a coach makes that kind of statement that it means ``It's time for a change.''

Richardson could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, John Walker, declined comment on Sunday.

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