On Tuesday, the college basketball world woke up to the FBI at their doorstep with charges of fraud and corruption.
This includes the Arizona Wildcats, who were named in the allegations as “University-4”, and long-time men’s basketball assistant coach Book Richardson.
The general bit on Richardson is that he received $20,000 in bribes for recruiting purposes in the past several months.
Arizona responded to the allegations by suspending Richardson immediately with the following, strongly worded, statement:
We became aware of the situation involving one of our men's basketball coaches Emmanuel Richardson this morning. We have been working in conjunction with the University, and have confirmed that Richardson has been suspended effective immediately. We will cooperate fully with authorities as they move through their investigation.
We work under the basic directive that all department personnel operate within applicable laws and NCAA rules. The behavior that Richardson is accused of is completely unacceptable and does not reflect the principles of this athletics department.
There are several other things in the allegations against Richardson that Arizona fans need to be aware of:
At least one other Arizona coach was involved
Book Richardson is the only Arizona assistant actually named in the document, but he is not the only one implicated.
March 8th and 9th were the first two days of the Pac-12 Tournament. It also says that a phone call was made to “another individual who was then an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at University-4”. Arizona lost one assistant coach this year. That was Joe Pasternack, who is now the head coach at UC Santa Barbara.
Later, the document says “SOOD added that the coaches had a “pipeline of kids, eventually these guys will be head coaches, I mean, so, so it’s all good.” and that “(Arizona’s) coaches haven’t asked for anything, but I’m sure when the time comes they will, right?”
So the behavior Arizona admonishes in its statement is more than just Richardson.
Agents at Arizona practices
The first undercover agent in this investigation participated in a call on speakerphone that had the following quote from former sports agent Christian Dawkins:
“I can go to (Arizona’s) practices like I”m on the team....The coaches, that’s the easy, that’s the easiest thing because they all, I know them all anyway. We’re friends.”
The NCAA prohibits coaches from facilitating contact between players and agents or financial advisors. So there’s an NCAA rule violated. Am I surprised agents are at Arizona practices? No, not at all. But it is an important sidenote.
A current player received money
It’s very obvious that this investigation could have major implications on the Arizona men’s basketball program — and Arizona athletics as a whole — in the coming years, but what about this year?
Well, according to the documents, there is a player on Arizona’s current team that has already received payments.
Since there are quotes taken from the phone call, it’s reasonable to think that the player could have been named on that audio.
There are also two current Arizona players that have labels (Player-6 and Player-7), who were brought up in a conversation on or about August 30th.
It does not say if these two players had already received payment, or if they were just targeted as potential clients for the agency, so there could be as many as three current players implicated.
There are plenty of damning facts for Arizona and Richardson in the document, and the fact that there are video and audio clips of a lot of these meetings make the charges even more disturbing. This is also an ongoing investigation, so more names could be released.
It’s impossible to know right now what will happen around Arizona basketball, but right now, nothing looks good for a lot of people.