What happens now that former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, a longtime aide of coach Sean Miller, agreed to a plea deal Monday with federal prosecutors in the fraud case involving college basketball?
According to various reports, including Yahoo! Sports, Arizona and Miller can breath easier that Richardson will not get on the stand with potentially incriminating testimony.
However, any cooperation Richardson provides to federal prosecutors could be investigated by the NCAA. Yahoo! Sports reported that the NCAA has begun investigating allegations that have come from the federal case.
An ESPN report last February alleged that that FBI wiretaps show Miller discussed a $100,000 payment with agent runner Christian Dawkins for former player Deandre Ayton during the recruitment process.
Miller has denied committing infractions, and the Arizona administration and the state’s Board of Regents have supported him to this point.
Richardson pleaded guilty to one count of federal funds bribery. The sentencing ranges from 18-24 months. Before the plea, he was facing the potential for up to 60 years in prison. His sentence will be determined by Judge Edgardo Ramos in the Southern District of New York.
Richardson was accused of taking approximately $20,000 in bribes from Dawkins in exchange for trying to sway Arizona players to sign with Dawkins-affiliated agents and financial planners.
Another possible concern for Miller and Arizona is that Dawkins reportedly does not want to plead guilty or cooperate with federal prosecutors, according to his lawyer Steve Haney.
Dawkins and Adidas executives James Gatto and Merl Code were convicted in October and their sentencing is scheduled March 5. Dawkins and Code are set to stand trial in April as defendants in another federal criminal case.
Richardson, former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans and former USC assistant Tony Bland were scheduled for that trial. The guilty pleas of Richardson and Bland remove them from that case. Evans has yet to make a plea deal.
Former Auburn assistant Chuck Person also has yet to agree to a plea deal. Person is scheduled for trial next month.
The cases are a result of a three-year FBI investigation into college basketball’s pay-for-play schemes to influence potential high-level high school recruits to attend a university with the plan the prospect will sign with the paying agent when the player advances to the NBA.
Citing evidence obtained from the federal trial last October, ESPN reported that Dawkins wrote an e-mail that detailed a plan to pay former Arizona player Rawle Alkins and his family a total of $50,000 while he was playing for the Wildcats last season.
The question now will be how hard the head coaches (i.e. Sean Miller and Andy Enfield) get hit for having assistants plead guilty. Head coaches accountable for assistants actions nowadays.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) January 7, 2019
In Dawkins’ reported email to agent partner Munish Sood, he mentioned he planned to pay Alkins $2,500 a month from September 2017 through April 2018, plus another $30,000 in travel expenses for Alkins’ family.
ESPN also reported that Dawkins wrote he wanted to give Alkins’ cousin, Rodney Labossiere, a share of his new sports management business.
The ESPN report stated other allegations involving Arizona from the complaint and federal trial in October.
Those included Brian Bowen Sr., the father of prospect Brian Bowen, testifying that he was told by Dawkins that former Arizona associate head coach Joe Pasternack offered $50,000 for his son to play for the Wildcats. Also, Adidas reps allegedly were offered $150,000 from Arizona for potential recruit Nassir Little.