Former TSU coach Nolan Richardson III found dead at home
Police in Tulsa, Okla., said Richardson — the son of former Arkansas and Tulsa men’s basketball coach Nolan Richardson — was found dead in his home.
“I was very saddened yesterday to hear of the death of Nolan Richardson III,” TSU Athletics Director Teresa Phillips said in a release. “My thoughts immediately went to his wife, children and of course his father. My deepest condolences go out to the Richardson family during this very difficult time in their lives.”
Richardson was suspended as TSU’s men’s basketball coach and later resigned after bringing a gun into Gentry Center to confront assistant coach Hosea Lewis on Christmas night, 2002.
Phillips, who was athletics director when Richardson was at TSU, did not return a call seeking further comment. She became the first woman to coach a men’s Division I basketball team later that season when Lewis, who became the interim coach, was suspended for a game after a brawl led to the ejection of 19 players.
Officer Jason Willingham said Monday that Richardson III’s wife found her husband dead in a chair in their Tulsa home about 3 p.m. Sunday. A cause of death was not immediately released but Willingham said it appears to be due to natural causes.
“That’s an early time for a young man to pass away,” said Cane Ridge assistant principal James Reese, who was football coach at TSU from 2000-04, overlapping Richardson’s tenure. “I was shocked to hear that.
“The time I dealt with him, he was always very cordial. We had a good working relationship. When he initially left, I had kept up with him, but I hadn’t lately.”
According to TSU police reports, Richardson and Lewis argued over the time of a practice for which only four players showed up. The conversation grew more heated, and Lewis told police that Richardson said, “Wait right here, I’m going to my car and I got something for you.”
Richardson said in his statement to TSU police that he retrieved a gun from his car. He said the gun was not loaded, but the statement disputed the account that assistant coach Christopher Graves gave TSU police.
Richardson was suspended, then resigned in January 2003. His record was 23-41. He arrived in 2000 to replace Frankie Allen after 10 years as an Arkansas assistant.
The program also underwent an NCAA investigation and sustained sanctions for rules violations under Richardson.
In addition to three years probation, TSU lost one scholarship and five days of off-campus evaluations over two years and was restricted on official recruiting visits for two years.
Violations included impermissible tryouts, offseason practices, recruiting inducements and unethical conduct by members of the coaching staff, according to the NCAA.