Favorite

Coaches: In black and white 

In cases involving employment discrimination, it is my job to prove that my client was treated less favorably than similarly situated white employees, when the person was either terminated or denied a promotion to a particular position. The law defines disparate treatment as when an employer treats some people less favorably than others because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. When one compares the treatment by the University of Arkansas of Houston Dale Nutt to that of Nolan Richardson, it is easy to conclude that these two coaches were treated differently, on account of their race.

According to Stanley Reed, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the University of Arkansas, the public had lost confidence in Coach Nutt's ability to lead the Razorbacks. It was widely reported in the newspapers, and on talk radio, that Coach Nutt had caused the Razorback nation to be divided. Gus Malzahn's departure, due in part to Coach Nutt's alleged mistreatment, as well as the departure of Mitch Mustain, Damien Williams and others, caused great discontent among the Razorback faithful. There were FOI requests flying, in addition to banners. It is no doubt that due to Coach Nutt's on-field and off-field activities, the majority of the people no longer wanted him. Nevertheless, Chairman Reed stated that the U of A did not want to fire Coach Nutt, because “it would look bad.”

During the press conference announcing Coach Nutt's resignation, Chancellor John White stated that the university wanted to remove the “golden handcuffs” from Coach Nutt. Chancellor White stated that due to Coach Nutt's great service to the university, White would encourage the Razorback Foundation to pay Coach Nutt money (over $3 million) that it really did not have to pay him, due to the fact that he was resigning. Coach Nutt apparently is walking away with close to $3.2 million, and he is free to take another coaching job (which he has), even in the SEC (which he did), without the risk of losing any money. When many fans were expressing their discontent with Coach Nutt, the university circled its wagons around the coach, standing firmly by his side. Chairman Reed stated, “It gets to the point of fairness and equity. We did not want to fire Houston Nutt. He had done a great job at the University of Arkansas… .” In Coach Nutt's 10 years at the U of A, he produced an overall record of 75-48 (61 percent) and a conference record of 42-40 (51 percent). Coach Nutt won one division championship and two co-division championships, but no overall SEC championship, and certainly no national championship.

Coach Nolan Richardson was terminated from the U of A when he made the following statement at a press conference following the Kentucky game: “If they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take the job tomorrow” — which, by the way, is exactly what the U of A did for Houston. Coach Richardson was terminated in part because the U of A said that his statement caused people to lose confidence and support for the basketball program, and would cause a negative impact on recruiting. Coach Richardson was not allowed to resign from the U of A, but instead was terminated. The “golden handcuffs” were not removed from Richardson, because if he got another coaching job, he would have been severely penalized from a monetary standpoint, unlike Nutt.

Comparing the conduct of Nutt versus Richardson, one can easily see that Nutt's conduct, both off the field and on the field, did more damage to the university and state, than the statement(s) attributable to Richardson. As a result of the controversy surrounding Nutt, players and a coach left, and highly touted recruits chose not to attend the U of A, yet White and Frank Broyles stood by their man. On the other hand, the U of A cannot point to a single player who left the basketball program or to one recruit who chose not to come to the U of A on account of Richardson's conduct.

Again, according to Reed, the university did not want to fire Nutt, because it would “look bad,” and it would not have been “fair or equitable.” However, Reed and the university did not have any problems firing an African-American coach who had an overall winning percentage of 70 percent; who won the overall SWC and SEC championships; who took a team to the NCAA Final Four three times out of six appearances; who won the school's only national championship in either basketball or football, and whose team was runner-up to the national champions the following year. When it came time to fire an African-American coach, the university did not concern itself with appearance, fairness or equity, proving that race of the coach makes a difference in how they are treated at the U of A.

Austin Porter is a Little Rock lawyer.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Fritz Brantley

  • Words, Dec. 20

    Introducing an old movie on the old movie channel the other night, the host told an old story. The story is untrue, although I suppose the host, semi-old, believed it.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • He talks, and talks, the talk

    A fellow posted an old newspaper article on his blog about a Mike Huckabee speech to a religious group in 1998. A friend faxed the article to me, then called to ask if I’d yet read it, which I had.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • Going whole hog

    A Q&A with irreverent Arkansas-raised comedian Matt Besser
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • More »

More by Austin Porter

  • The Trump phenomenon

    The political pundits are scratching their heads as to why Donald Trump is doing so well in his quest to become the Republican presidential nominee.
    • Mar 17, 2016
  • Silence on black shootings

    The shooting of Harris County, Texas, Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth was a tragedy. Police officers put their lives on the line for the people of this country every day. Many are underpaid and are not in policing for the money, but for the opportunity to make their communities and cities better. I am proud of the fact that my son is a police officer, and I pray for his safety constantly.
    • Sep 10, 2015
  • Racial bias in police shootings

    Once again, an African-American male has been killed in Ferguson, Mo., by a white police officer. The killing of Michael Brown, who was unarmed, and attempting to get away from a police officer, is just another casualty in a long line of such tragedies. Brown's killing has raised many questions. But the real question, which everyone seems to avoid, is why do white police officers shoot and/or kill so many unarmed African-American males? When is the last time that a white police officer killed an unarmed white male in the United States?
    • Aug 28, 2014
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
    • Jul 20, 2017

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Good anger

    Recently, I attended a training session with the Little Rock Organizing Committee, an alliance of churches, schools, unions and other organizations concerned with social justice. The three-day workshop was essentially a crash course in community organizing. There were multiple lessons, but the biggest benefit to me was learning that anger is not always bad.
    • Nov 30, 2017
  • Tax truths

    The idea that a tax cut for the wealthy will help everyone, though false, is a stubbornly marketable notion.
    • Nov 9, 2017
  • Can't afford to gut ACA

    The Affordable Care Act was passed into law with the promise that it would make insurance affordable. Because of bipartisan leadership in Arkansas, we continue to strive to achieve that goal. While rhetoric abounds, it is important to understand the Arkansas experience.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • I miss my wolves. It has been over five years since the last of my…

    • on December 12, 2017
  • Re: Where cities go from here

    • So Florida says he was wrong the first time and the second time he says…

    • on December 10, 2017
  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • Dee-lightful column - and wonderfully written comments.

    • on December 10, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation