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Arkansas system president upholds decision to dismiss Richardson

Arkansas' top executive upheld the dismissal of coach Nolan Richardson, saying Thursday he concurred in a campus chancellor's decision to fire him.

President B. Alan Sugg said he reviewed materials submitted by Richardson, but agreed the coach should be replaced.

"Based on my review, I am firmly convinced that the termination of your employment agreement by (chancellor) John White in consultation with (athletic director) Frank Broyles was legal and fair," Sugg wrote Thursday in a letter to Richardson.

"I find no evidence of discriminatory conduct or motive in the making of this decision by John White and Frank Broyles."

It wasn't clear whether Richardson would take legal action.

"We're not going to move in haste. We'll consider all options carefully and in due course," said John Walker, Richardson's lawyer. "It'll be a while before we choose to do anything. We won't make any announcement about it. We'll just do it if we do it."

White terminated Richardson's contract March 1 and said the coach had asked privately and publicly to be bought out.

Richardson said Feb. 23 and Feb. 25 that if the university bought out his contract, he would leave. He said later, however, that he wanted to stay and asked Sugg to review White's decision.

White had said after Richardson's initial public statement that he believed Richardson was just blowing off steam amid a dismal season. Later, however, he said he decided to buy out the last six years of the seven-year $1.03 million-per-year pact.

A buyout clause in Richardson's deal allows the university to buy out the contract for $500,000 a year without giving a reason.

Banned Michigan booster indicted

DETROIT _ A former Michigan booster was indicted on charges of giving ex-Wolverines star Chris Webber and other players more than $600,000 while they were in high school and college.

Ed Martin, a retired Ford Motor Co. electrician, made loans to the players to help conceal profits from gambling operations at Detroit-area auto plants, according to the federal indictment.

U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins said the payments were made from 1988-99 "to the basketball players and their families."

None of the players or their family members was involved in the criminal investigation, Collins said. Prosecutors also said there was no evidence of point-shaving or other gambling on college sports.

FBI Special Agent John Bell said the investigation continued into whether the players reported the income. Martin and his wife were arrested Thursday on charges of running an illegal gambling business, conspiracy and money laundering. They pleaded innocent and were released on $10,000 bond.

Cincy's Huggins considering W.Va. job

CINCINNATI _ Coach Bob Huggins has received an offer to become West Virginia's coach and is considering whether to accept it or stay where he is.

"It's really a personal decision for Bob to make," said Bret Adams, his lawyer in Columbus. He declined to discuss details of the offer.

Huggins, 48, has taken the Bearcats to postseason tournaments each of his 13 seasons as coach. His overall coaching record is 500-172, including 332-100 at Cincinnati.

West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong would not confirm or deny whether he offered Huggins the coaching job, said Shelly Poe, a spokeswoman for the Mountaineers athletics department.

SPC wins in NJCAA losers bracket

St. Petersburg College defeated Sheridan (Wyoming) College 93-91 in overtime in a losers-bracket game Thursday at the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. The Titans (29-6) overcame a 45-34 halftime deficit. SPC plays Walters State (Tenn.) today at 1. If SPC wins, it plays in the losers-bracket final at 2 Saturday.

CAL: Center-forward Jamal Sampson declared himself eligible for the NBA draft after one season.

JAMES MADISON: Ron Bradley resigned after 11 years as Radford's coach to become Sherman Dillard's top assistant.

WASHINGTON: The name of Gophers coach Dan Monson _ the former coach at Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash. _ is being widely mentioned in reports as a potential replacement for the fired Bob Bender.

Other coaches considered to be candidates include current Gonzaga coach Mark Few; Missouri coach Quin Snyder, a Seattle native; Saint Louis coach and former Washington player Lorenzo Romar, Kent State coach Stan Heath, Dana Altman of Creighton, Pittsburgh coach Ben Howland and Western Kentucky's Dennis Felton. Minnesota AD Tom Moe said no one from Washington has contacted him to ask permission to speak with Monson.

PITTSBURGH: Coach Ben Howland, who signed a contract extension only last year, expects to complete a new contract next week.

_ Times staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report.