Columns » Max Brantley

Hogs win, with an *

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Woo pig. But the redneck Ts & As who whoop at Richardson's defeat should read Wilson's opinion. It wasn't a proud day for the University. The judge painted Athletic Director Frank Broyles and UA Chancellor John White as liars. Broyles admitted lying to Richardson about the worth of his token appointment as assistant athletic director and about his belief in his qualifications. White was nailed, on TV, denying knowledge of a plan to fire Richardson - three days after he made the decision. Wilson derided the notion that calling a white man a redneck is comparable to calling a black man a nigger, as Broyles and others had cried. (UA Trustee Jim Lindsey once lobbied Broyles to fire Richardson for applying the term to his critics.) "Although some may argue that there is no real difference, they are wrong, and I suspect they know it," the judge said The judge noted that a former UA board chair and a current trustee testified that they still use "nigger" in conversation. Wilson suggested that a trustee for the university should "purge his vocabulary of such words - and work on his heart and mind in the same vein." He was troubled that neither trustee seemed "abashed" by his admission. The judge said Broyles and White did a stupid thing by deciding to fire Richardson but waiting four days to tell him. Broyles also was faulted for failing to counsel Richardson over previous angry outbursts. Better communication over the years could have prevented the final meltdown, the judge observed. Mike Nail, a Hog sports announcer who was called as an alibi witness for Broyles, was portrayed as little more than a dishonest toady. Wilson forcefully rebutted Phil Kaplan, one of the private lawyers who nicked taxpayers for some $500,000 to defend the UA. Kaplan had said Richardson's suit was all about money. The judge rejected that argument "out-of-hand." He wrote, "It is primarily about wounded pride - wounded pride in a man who started way behind but climbed to the top by hard work, savvy and most of all perseverance. … This case is no more 'all about money' than is the lawsuit of a person who has been maimed by a drunken driver." The judge credited Richardson with believing, if not proving, that race and outspokenness cost him his job. Wilson said the belief was not "unreasonable," given the evidence, such as Broyles' effort to stir a storm by planting a racially tinged story harmful to Richardson in a Hog fan publication. In the end, UA President Alan Sugg, whose testimony Wilson "credited in its entirety" on crucial points, may have saved the Porkers' butt. I got the distinct feeling that the judge would approve if Sugg did some further housecleaning at Fayetteville. Don't hold your breath. To borrow sports cliches: A W is a W. But this one was ugly.

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