Former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson sued the university in federal court yesterday, claiming its chancellor and athletic director discriminated against him because he is black and violated his free speech rights. Richardson asked a federal judge to return him to his old job.

Arkansas Chancellor John A. White fired Richardson on March 1 after the longtime basketball coach complained that he was being treated differently because he was black. The former coach said in the lawsuit that he was under tremendous pressure when he said he wanted his contract bought out. The school did buy him out on the remaining six years on his contract, agreeing to pay Richardson up to $3 million over the remaining seasons of what started as a seven-year pact.

In addition to seeking reinstatement, Richardson is seeking lost wage and damages for harm to his reputation, mental and emotional stress, and legal fees.

University lawyer Scott Varady withheld comment. . . .

A gambling investigation at Florida State centers on former Seminoles quarterback Adrian McPherson, who was kicked off the team last month after he was accused of stealing a check. University Vice President John Carnaghi said yesterday that police "are investigating rumors and hearsay regarding a single, former football player, Adrian McPherson."

"The investigation does not currently extend to any other student-athletes at FSU," he said.

McPherson's lawyer, Grady Irvin Jr., said his client has never bet on a sporting event. McPherson started four games this season, going 3-1. . . .

West Virginia University has adequately addressed rules violations in the men's basketball program and no further action is necessary, the NCAA said. The university began an internal investigation after Bowling Green Coach Dan Dakich -- who briefly accepted a job as the Mountaineers' coach -- discovered a possible violation. He quit a week later.

Colleges

MSU Calls on Louisville's Smith

Michigan State hired Louisville's John L. Smith as football coach, hoping to turn around the team after its worst season in more than a decade. Smith succeeds Bobby Williams, fired Nov. 4 with three games left in a season that was disappointing on and off the field.

Louisville was 41-21 under Smith, including Wednesday's 38-15 bowl loss to Marshall. During that game, cell phones started ringing on Louisville's sideline during the first quarter, and word spread quickly that Smith might be headed elsewhere.

"We knew about it in the first quarter. The whole sideline knew," Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone said Wednesday. "I tried to put some water on the fire, but the guys had a lot of different emotions at that time, and it was hard to regroup." . . .

East Carolina's new football coach will be Florida defensive coordinator John Thompson, sources at both schools said. . . .

Bowling Green promoted offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon to head football coach.

Soccer

Freedom Gets Courage in Opener

The Washington Freedom released its schedule and will kick off its third season on April 5 at the Carolina Courage in a rematch of last August's Women's United Soccer Association title game. The Freedom will open its RFK Stadium schedule the following weekend against the New York Power. Nine of the Freedom's 10 home games will be played on weekends.

The Freedom's 21-game regular season likely will feature two doubleheaders with D.C. United, on May 17 and July 19, and will conclude on Aug. 9 at San Diego. (Complete schedule, Page D6.)

Obituary

'Dr. Strangeglove' Dies of Cancer

Former Red Sox first baseman Dick Stuart, whose potent hitting won him the RBI title in his first season at Fenway Park in 1963 and whose inept fielding won him the tag "Dr. Strangeglove" from Boston sportswriters, died Sunday of cancer at his home in Redwood City, Calif. He was 70.

High Schools

Roosevelt Player Gives Word to Pitt

Eleanor Roosevelt senior linebacker Derron Thomas has orally committed to play football next season for the University of Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-2, 227-pound Thomas was named a second-team All-Met this season after making 98 tackles with 7 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions for the Raiders (5-3).

After coaching Louisville in the GMAC Bowl Wednesday, John L. Smith had his hands on another job yesterday.