Gun episode has TSU's Richardson under fire

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee State wants to fire basketball coach Nolan Richardson III for bringing a gun on school property Christmas night after arguing with an assistant coach.

Richardson, son of former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, was indefinitely suspended Dec. 26. Athletic director Teresa Phillips said he was suspended "pending termination proceedings."

He is "not allowed on the campus premises, nor is he allowed any contact with athletics personnel," she said in a statement.

Phillips swore out the complaint filed with university police and obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday. Bringing a weapon on the campus violates Tennessee law and is grounds for immediate dismissal along with fighting.

According to the report, the incident started when only four Tigers showed for practice Christmas night. Richardson was upset more players did not attend, and he blamed it on a misunderstanding by assistant coach Hosea Lewis.

Richardson told campus police Lewis hit him with a gym bag, which contained some chain for a scoreboard.

"Then he said, 'Come on.' Then I said, 'OK, I'll be back,"' Richardson wrote in his statement to police. "Went to my car to get a crow bar and saw my gun there and I took it. But it had no clip or anything."

Richardson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

He acknowledged to police that he had brought a .38-caliber handgun from his car into Gentry Center. He said in his statement he found assistant coach Christopher Graves outside the gym, and they talked and left.

Graves told police he saw Richardson put what looked to be a gun in the pocket of his sweatshirt. His written statement said Richardson asked where Lewis was because he "had something for him."

Graves said he talked to Richardson for about 15 minutes to calm him, then watched him try to "unchamber a round" of ammunition from the gun.

After Richardson left, Graves said he drove Lewis around for up to 45 minutes before returning to pick up Lewis' car. Graves said he wanted to make sure Richardson "was not waiting to finish the argument" by Lewis' car.

Richardson was 23-41 since being given his first head coaching job in April 2000. He had been an assistant under his father at Arkansas for 10 seasons. The Tigers (2-9) have lost four straight under Lewis, named interim head coach.

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