Fayetteville City Council votes to rename road after legendary Razorback basketball coach

KNWA

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — As the Razorback men’s basketball team prepares for March Madness, Fayetteville is honoring the program’s only coach to ever bring home an NCAA Tournament title.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the Fayetteville City Council voted to rename a street near Bud Walton Arena. Leroy Pond Drive will soon be known as Nolan Richardson Drive.

D’Andre Jones, a city council member, pushed for this after hearing the idea from the University of Arkansas’ Black Alumni Society. Richardson, 79, coached the Razorbacks from 1985-2002 and won the program’s only championship in 1994.

“Coach [Richardson] brought hope to Black faculty, students and staff, that were here during his tenure, and I was one of them,” said Synetra Hughes, the society’s Vice President. “For many, he was one of the answers to the struggles that we faced back then and apparently we still face today.”

Jones said the decision to rename the street helps heal racial trauma that stemmed from the end of Richardson’s tenure, which included a lawsuit alleging racism when he was fired. In Sept. 2019, the Razorback Athletic program took a big step in mending its relationship with Richardson by renaming the Bud Walton court after him.

“What we did last night gives a future that we can all be proud to look forward to, and it also gives us something to celebrate in the present,” Jones said.

Richardson said he was honored by the gesture to rename the street.

“The good man upstairs is not going to ask me how many games I won, but I really think He might ask me, ‘How many lives did [you] touch?'” Richardson said. “That’s probably more important to me when you have that kind of an outpour for someone to receive a great honor. It’s truly a great honor.”

The street’s current namesake, Lt. Colonel Leroy Pond, was a UA graduate who fought in World War II and died from battle wounds in 1945. City council voted to rename Government Ave. near the National Cemetery in his honor.

“Leroy Pond was a decorated war hero,” Jones said.

In a statement, UA administrators said it commends city council for honoring both men.

“We appreciate the City’s efforts to honor Nolan Richardson while also maintaining the legacy of WWII veteran Leroy Pond. The proposal does just that and the university looks forward to continuing to work together with the City on this project.”

University Relations

Jones said this is the best move to honor both men’s legacies.

“Both of them have done amazing things for Fayetteville and the state of Arkansas,” Jones said.

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