Nolan Richardson didn’t put Arkansas basketball on the map.
Anyone under 40 will find that hard to fathom, but Nolan inherited a program Eddie Sutton put into the national spotlight.
Nolan did take Arkansas basketball to the top of the mountain, though. Came close one more time.
It was Nolan’s accomplishments that got Bud Walton Arena built. Sutton’s accomplishments literally got rid of the sawdust floor at Barnhill Arena.
The UA’s student government has submitted a proposal to name the floor at Bud Walton after Nolan.
Andrew Counce, president of the UA’s Associated Student Government (ASG), submitted a recommendation to the UA athletic department Monday. He is the nephew of former Arkansas basketball player Jim Counce, who played for Sutton.
The ASG legislation was shown to UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz in his monthly meeting with the chancellor last Friday. The legislation was passed by the ASG on Feb. 6 by a 41-1 vote with seven abstentions, Counce told WholeHogSports.com.
It wasn’t an original idea, but it is the first time I’m aware that any action of any type has been taken on it.
Former athletics director Jeff Long, not surprisingly, failed to show much interest. Considering in recent interviews he’s developed some form of revisionist history with selective amnesia, don’t be surprised to hear him say he was actually planning it in the near future.
Richardson, 76, compiled a 127-22 record at Walton Arena, winning 85.2 percent of his games there. He was 78-15 (.838) in Barnhill Arena for an overall home record of 205-37 at Arkansas.
No one will ever come close to that record. It’s an entirely different world in college basketball some 23 years later and to some Stan Heath and John Pelphrey pushed Razorback hoops back beyond Sutton’s tenure.
Nolan, who is a much calmer, relaxed individual these days from his coaching days, is humble about the whole idea.
“I would say to the students that if they felt I did a job they liked and they want to express their opinion on something such as naming the court after me, there’s no reason for me to not want anything to happen,” Richardson told WholeHogSports.com.
“If it happens, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t happen, that’s wonderful. I’ve done the job that I thought I had to do, which was to get our program on a level where such a facility could be built.”
New Hogs athletics director Hunter Yurachek could bank a lot of good will just a couple of months into his tenure by coming down on the side of naming the floor after Nolan.
It’s likely not his decision. That would have to come from Steinmetz, who has gotten more publicity from athletics in the past six months than he likely ever envisioned.
And before anyone starts anything, naming the arena after Nolan should not be considered. That wouldn’t be fair to Bud Walton’s family. Honestly, the place opened with the name of the man who stepped up and wrote a check to make it happen.
Nolan is likely in agreement with that.
But naming the floor in an arena is a trend in basketball that should be done by whoever is in charge of those things with the UA.
It would be a nice announcement at, say, the Kentucky game about it.
Having it done and unveiled then would be better. It’s not expensive and it’s not a time-consuming project.
If there is a question, it’s really simple:
Why hasn’t it been done already.