It’s time for the Arizona basketball program to brace themselves. The Wildcats are (finally) getting investigated, and it’s looking like a massive punishment is on the horizon.
“An NCAA investigation is underway,” a university spokesman confirmed to the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson on Friday night.
Back in January, Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson pleaded guilty to accepting $20,000 in bribes to push Arizona players to aspiring sports manager and agent Christian Dawkins once they moved on to the NBA.
And then during a federal criminal trial in New York this week, prosecutors played a phone call in which Richardson told Dawkins that Arizona head coach Sean Miller was paying former Wildcat center and current Phoenix Sun Deandre Ayton $10,000 per month during his time at the school
According to ESPN, it was later revealed in court that Miller said he was “taking care” of payments for Ayton.
Last week, federal prosecutors played a surveillance recording of a meeting on June 6, 2017, in which Dawkins talks about Ayton and says Miller told him, “I’m taking care of everything myself. I wanna bring you in. I’ll turn everything over to you.” Former financial adviser Marty Blazer, a cooperating witness for the government, was present at the June 2017 meeting and testified last week that the reference was about Miller “taking care” of payments for Ayton.
During a telephone call, which FBI wiretaps intercepted on June 2, 2017, Dawkins told his business partner Munish Sood that Miller “fronted” the deal for Ayton to sign with Arizona. “[Richardson] already made it clear you’re gonna get, or we’re gonna get, the No. 1 pick next year, assuming he’s No. 1,” Sood said during the call. “It’s going to be more money than what they, what Book, said. I mean, because I talked to Sean,” Dawkins told Sood. “Sean’s the one that fronted that deal. So it’s going to be some money, but, I mean, we’ll figure that out.”
During the trial, a recorded tape also revealed that Richardson admitted to making $2,000 monthly payments to former Arizona guard Rawle Alkins’ cousin, Rodney Labossiere, while Alkins was playing for the Wildcats.
“His cousin moved to Tucson, which I’m highly against,” Richardson said on the recordings. “I never want the parents or anyone to move there. I’ll give you two grand a month to make sure it works. But he brought him, his wife and his child. Wrong move.”
In July of 2017, Richardson also reportedly asked for an additional $15,000 from Dawkins to give the mother of 2018 recruit Jahvon Quinerly, who later signed with Villanova. The Arizona assistant also planned on making three additional payments worth $15,000 total, along with $10,000 more of his own money.
In another interesting turn in the case, Arizona also reportedly had an offer on the table for former North Carolina forward Nassir Little worth $150,000.
And boom goes the dynamite.
Arizona sent out a press release this afternoon saying that while the NCAA is investigating the program, it’s been going on for a while now and nothing new has come of it since the court hearings this past week.
“The University of Arizona is correcting recent inaccurate media reports. Any reports stating that the NCAA has either “started” or “launched” a new investigation at the University of Arizona are entirely false. To be clear, we will continue to cooperate fully with any NCAA proceedings in the best interest of the University and the men’s basketball program.”
Not sure it matters at this point, though. Arizona is going down.