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School AD was worried about Richardson early

Frank Broyles' concerns with Nolan Richardson's job performance began as early as 1987, his second season as Arkansas coach, according to a document recently released by the university.

As Richardson's Razorbacks wrapped up the season in Fayetteville, Broyles, the athletic director, wrote he was concerned that Richardson wasn't meeting the program's objectives.

Broyles wrote in the March 9, 1987, memo that before Richardson's hiring, "We both agreed that the Razorback program had the fan support and other resources to be a perennial "Top 20' basketball program" and a dominant force in the Southwest Conference.

"We both learned the hard way that you had not inherited sufficient talent to achieve any of these objectives" in Richardson's first season, Broyles said.

Arkansas fired Richardson on March 1 and the university system president upheld the dismissal Thursday. The next day, it released about 2,000 documents from Richardson's personnel file to reporters under Freedom of Information requests. Copies also were sent to the ex-coach's lawyer.

Richardson joined the program in 1985, after Eddie Sutton left for Kentucky following a 22-13 season. Richardson's first team was 12-16. In his second, which also saw Richardson lose his 16-year-old daughter, Yvonne, to leukemia, the team went 19-14, losing in the first round of the Southwest Conference tournament to Texas Tech.

Broyles cited Richardson's expectations for his second season, when "as you public(ly) stated several times last fall the Razorbacks should be a contender for the conference and put on a very good team at tournament time.

"Virtually none of this materialized," Broyles wrote. "For the second straight year, we were out of the conference race before it barely began and we were out of the tournament as soon as it began.

"Some of the victories this season and most of the losses involved inexplicable inconsistencies. It is obvious that we have fallen far short of our objectives, both long-term and short-term."

Broyles devoted two lengthy paragraphs to reassuring Richardson that the coach had Broyles' "highest regard both professionally and personally" and citing Richardson's "strong character and leadership qualities." Such support was also shared by the great majority of Arkansas fans, Broyles said.

Broyles wrote that Richardson was a proven winner in recruiting.

But he went on to criticize Richardson's team management. "I am convinced that there are critical areas which will prevent you from achieving your goals unless there is substantial reorganization," Broyles wrote.

Late Saturday

JUCO CHAMPIONSHIP: Jaime Lloreda scored 26 and Wes Edwards capped a second-half comeback with a basket in the final minute as Dixie State, Utah, beat Coffeyville, Kan., 82-81 to win the national championship in Hutchinson, Kan. Dixie State snapped Coffeyville's 29-game winning streak.