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Richardson and Sugg meeting Monday, university says

Updated:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ An injunction that attempts to block Arkansas from searching for a new coach is an option if Nolan Richardson is not restored as basketball coach, Richardson's lawyer said Thursday.

The university announced Wednesday that system President B. Alan Sugg would meet with Richardson on Monday as part of Sugg's review of the university's decision to buyout the last six years of the coach's contract.

Richardson's lawyer John Walker said Thursday that he would consider the coach's options after the meeting, including possibly filing an injunction to delay the university's search for a replacement.

``We have that option, but I have not stated that was something we're going to do. I am researching the law to determine whether that option is viable so it can be utilized in the event the president does not reinstate coach Richardson,'' Walker said.

``We don't have any plans to do anything other than to afford President Sugg the opportunity to review this matter,'' Walker said. ``I'm curious to know whether he can be fair and objective, considering he sat in on and participated in the decision,'' he said.

In a letter Tuesday, university chief counsel Fred Harrison gave Walker until until 1 p.m. Friday to submit any information he wanted Sugg to review in the school's termination of Richardson's contract.

A news release from the university said a meeting between Sugg and Richardson had been scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the university's system office in Little Rock.

``This is part of the review process and will be a private meeting with legal counsel present,'' the release said.

Harrison said in an earlier letter to Walker that attorneys for Sugg and Richardson will be able to attend as observers but will not be permitted to make statements or ask questions.

Arkansas bought out Richardson's contract after Richardson said twice publicly that, if the school would buy out his contract, he would leave. Before the contract was ended March 1, Richardson said he wanted to stay.

Walker said Thursday that Richardson still considers himself the head Razorback basketball coach.

``He considers that he has not been terminated unless and until the review by President Sugg is final and upholds the decision of the chancellor,'' Walker said.

At the time his contract was bought out, Richardson was one year into a seven-year, $1.03 million-a-year pact. He said Feb. 23 and again Feb. 25 that he would leave under the contract's buyout clause, worth $500,000 a year for six years.

During his Feb. 25 news conference, the former coach also criticized fans and reporters and said he was treated differently because he is black. He later apologized and said Feb. 28 that he wanted to stay at Arkansas. By then, steps already had been taken to replace him.

Walker has requested specific, written reasons for the university's decision, as well as an outline of Sugg's role in it to determine whether the president's review would be fair.

The appeal to Sugg is seen as a prerequisite for possible legal action by Richardson against the university.
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