"He has made many valuable contributions to the University of Arkansas and has provided exemplary service to causes and charities throughout the state," White said in a statement. "His legacy will last forever, but it is now time to look to the future."
Members of the school's board of trustees were notified of the decision after it was made. Trustee J. Thomas "Tommy" May said he supported it.
"We regret the turmoil that surrounds this decision, but sometimes change is in the best interest of all parties," May said. "I think that Coach Richardson has given us 17 years of great basketball here in Arkansas ... and certainly we all hate that it must end in this manner."
In 22 years as a head coach, including five years at Tulsa, Richardson has a 508-206 record. At Arkansas, he was 389-169, winning five conference championships three in the Southwest Conference and two in the SEC. The Razorbacks also won three SWC tournaments and one SEC tournament.
At Tulsa and Western Texas Junior College, he won NIT and national junior college titles. His departure leaves only one active black coach Kentucky's Tubby Smith with a national championship title. Richardson was known for his blunt comments. In 1994, in detailing the difficulties of being a black coach in the South, he said, "If I was white and I did what I've done here, they'd build statues to me."
His racially tinged remarks this week, however, clearly upset the university. Richardson first raised the possibility of a buyout last Saturday in Lexington, Ky. In discussing pressure on him and Kentucky coach Tubby Smith, who also is black, Richardson said: "If they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take the job tomorrow."
White initially said he attributed Richardson's comments to frustration over a difficult season. Then, at a news conference Monday, Richardson said he was not responsible for answering to fans or to the media. He complained about news coverage and noted that only white reporters were at the news conference.
"When I look at all of you people in this room, I see no one look like me, talk like me or act like me," he said. "Now, why don't you recruit? Why don't the editors recruit like I'm recruiting?" Richardson, the only black among the Fayetteville campus' 17 head coaches, also said he was treated differently because of his race.
"See, my great-great-grandfather came over on the ship, I didn't," he said. "And I don't think you understand what I'm saying. My great-great-grandfather came over on the ship. Not Nolan Richardson.
"I did not come over on that ship, so I expect to be treated a little bit different," he said. "Because I know for a fact that I do not play on the same level as the other coaches around this school play on. I know that. You know it. And people of my color know that. And that angers me."
He said Tuesday that social life "is not that good for a black athlete" in Fayetteville. He said the characterization might not sound right, but that Arkansas is a "place that they come to play basketball or come to play football."
After those remarks, White said Wednesday that Richardson had harmed the university and that he couldn't guarantee the coach's job was secure.
"There has been a lot of damage overall to the program. Coach Richardson recognizes that," White said.
Richardson's agent, Kevin Scanlon, said his client's comments were directed at the small percentage of hard-to-please Razorback supporters.
On Thursday, Richardson said he wanted to stay as coach.
"I enjoy where I am. I've worked extremely hard. We've got a good recruiting class coming in next year," he said. "I had made those promises to the families, and so my interest has always been high in coaching. At this point, I still love the game."
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