The federal documents released to the public Tuesday related to the corruption investigation into college basketball contained detailed allegations against some of the nation’s biggest programs.
One portion of the federal reports offers a fascinating, step-by-step look at how Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson allegedly secured a commitment from a five-star player in the class of 2018 with the help of other defendants in the case.
Though not directly referred to by name in the documents, Arizona is known as “University-4” in the case. Richardson is one of four assistant coaches who have been charged with federal crimes as a result of the investigation.
The series of events detailing his recruitment of “Player-5” — an unnamed prospect from the class of 2018 — also include two other defendants in the case: Christian Dawkins, a professional sports agent who was fired early this year by ASM Sports; and Munish Sood, a financial adviser hoping to gain pro basketball players as clients.
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According to the federal documents, beginning around February of this year, an undercover FBI agent, working with Dawkins and Sood, facilitated the payment of $20,000 to Richardson in order to recruit “Player-5” to Arizona.
In exchange for the bribe, Richardson agreed to use his influence over Arizona players to “pressure them” to retain Dawkins and Sood as their manager and financial adviser, respectively, upon turning pro.
According to the documents, Sood approached the federal government’s cooperating witness in the case about the prospect of paying coaches at Arizona and told him that he would be meeting with two Arizona coaches for dinner in Las Vegas during the Pac-12 Tournament. The FBI conducted surveillance at the Vegas restaurant that night and observed Sood speaking to two “unidentified males.”
According to the federal documents, Sood exchanged three phone calls the next day with a phone number “subscribed” to Richardson and two calls with a cell number “subscribed” to another Arizona assistant coach.
Sood told the witness a few days later that it had been a “good” meeting and that “the coaches are interested in definitely working with us” but wanted to wait until after the NCAA Tournament.
“As of right now, (the Arizona coaches) haven’t asked for anything, but I’m sure when the time comes, they will, right?” Sood said to the witness, according to the federal documents. Sood also noted that one of Arizona’s coaches had invited him to the university’s campus.
About six weeks later, according to the documents, Sood called Richardson, and the call was intercepted by a judicially authorized wiretap. Sood encouraged Richardson to visit him the next time he was in the New York City area, noted that he was working with Dawkins, and told the Arizona assistant coach: “As you get more comfortable with me and my team, my hope is that we can continue to, you know, build a long-term relationship.”
Richardson told Sood that he “prided himself” on being “a relationship guy.”
“I’m with you. I’m definitely with you,” Richardson said, according to the documents.
Dawkins was fired by ASM Sports in early May as a result of a memorandum published by the NBA Players’ Association that detailed his use of an NBA player’s credit card to pay for unauthorized car service rides.
Around this time, the FBI introduced an undercover agent to Sood and Dawkins through the cooperating witness in the case. The witness introduced the undercover agent as his “financial backer” and someone “interested in helping to provide funding” for Dawkins.
On or around May 2, according to the documents, Sood and Dawkins had a conversation — also intercepted by the wiretap — where they discussed the possibility of Dawkins starting his own management company.
“We can help you fund it,” Sood concluded.
About a week later, Sood met with the cooperating witness and the undercover agent at a Miami bar and discussed entering into a sports management venture together, a conversation that federal documents state was recorded on audio and video. The business would include paying coaches in order to obtain athlete clients.
In a meeting a few days later in New York, the undercover agent — posing as the financial backer — asked how they could “guarantee” a player would sign with their management company after college.
“If we take care of everybody and everything is done, we control everything,” Dawkins replied, according to the documents. “You can make millions off of one kid.”
A couple of weeks later, in late May, the witness, the undercover agent and Sood met at a restaurant in New Jersey to discuss the management company and talked about having one pot for Dawkins’ salary and expenses and a separate pot used to pay college coaches.
While driving to the restaurant, Sood received a phone call from Dawkins, and put the call on speaker phone so the witness and undercover agent could listen. Sood asked Dawkins about his relationships with college coaches, and Dawkins bragged about the number of coaches he had spoken to “today alone,” before adding that: “I can go to (Arizona’s) practices like I’m on the team. The coaches … I know them all anyway, we’re friends.”
According to the federal documents, Sood and the undercover agent then came to an agreement on how to fund Dawkins’ business.
In a later call between Sood and Dawkins — intercepted by the wiretap — Sood asked Dawkins to “send us a list of … your top 10 or 15 coaches that, you know, we could be working with going forward.” Dawkins said he would do that, according to the documents.
At the beginning of June, Sood forwarded the undercover agent a list of basketball coaches that had been provided by Dawkins. The documents say that list included “a number of basketball coaches at NCAA Division I universities,” including Richardson and Southern Cal’s Tony Bland, another coach charged in the case.
A few days after that, Sood, Dawkins, Sood’s assistant, the witness, the undercover agent and two more undercover FBI agents met on a boat docked off Manhattan to sign a shareholder agreement for Dawkins’ new management company. They also discussed how much money the coaches involved in the case would be paid. Dawkins noted that Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans, another coach charged in the case, was not one of the “elite, elite dudes” in college recruiting but said Richardson was.
“If you’re gonna fund those kind of guys, man, I mean like we’d be running college basketball,” Dawkins said, according to the documents.
In June, Dawkins re-approached Richardson about receiving bribes in exchange for convincing Arizona players to retain the services of Dawkins’ company after college.
Later that month, Dawkins and Richardson spoke by telephone — the conversation was recorded by a second federal wiretap — to discuss how much money Richardson could expect from such an arrangement. According to the documents, Dawkins told Richardson he could get $5,000 or more per month in bribes. He also told Richardson that there was a player already at Arizona who had received payments, according to the documents.
Dawkins and Richardson then discussed “Player-5,” a high school prospect that Richardson was already paying to recruit to Arizona, according to the documents. Dawkins told Richardson that he could use their money toward that recruitment. Richardson then told Dawkins that “Player-5” would be on campus that weekend.
Five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly visited Arizona that weekend.
Later on that day, Sood, his assistant, the witness and two undercover FBI agents met with Richardson in a New York hotel room to go over the plan in more detail. The witness and one of the agents were wearing recording devices, and two video recorders had been placed in the hotel room.
Richardson told the group that although he used to recommend several options for professional representation to his players, he would now simply tell his players to retain Dawkins and his company.
“At the end of the day these kids — and they are kids — my job is to try to put them in the best possible situation so everyone can be solid (and) make as much money as possible,” Richardson said.
At the end of the meeting, one of the undercover agents gave Richardson $5,000 in exchange for his agreement to direct Arizona players to Dawkins’ company, according to the documents.
In July, Dawkins said in a phone call to one of the undercover agents that he wanted an additional $15,000 for Richardson to give to “Player-5” in order to influence him to Arizona. Dawkins told the agent that Richardson had a “top point guard in the country” and he was ready to commit to Arizona.
Dawkins called Richardson two days later and said the undercover agent — posing as the financial backer — was willing to provide the extra $15,000 if Richardson would treat it as a payment for the following three months. Richardson agreed, according to the documents.
Dawkins spoke to the undercover agent that same day and said that, “(The head coach at Arizona) is talking out of his mouth, he wants (Player-5) bad as (expletive). So, I mean, the leverage I have with that program would be ridiculous at that point.”
The head men’s basketball coach at Arizona is Sean Miller.
Dawkins told the undercover agent that Richardson would give the money to “somebody involved with the kid” and later said the most effective step in many recruitments is to meet “the handler, the guy who’s … making the decision,” according to the federal documents.
On or about July 20, according to the documents, Richardson met with Sood and the undercover agent posing as the financial backer at Sood’s office in New Jersey to pick up the $15,000. The meeting was recorded on audio and video, and Richardson provided his contacts with updates on “a number of players he was recruiting,” including “Player-5.” Richardson described “Player-5” as having “committed to us,” but explained that the player’s mother had asked for money because “she didn’t know what I was already doing for her son.” Richardson then reiterated his intent to steer players to Dawkins’ management group, according to the documents.
The documents also say that, “on or about August 9, 2017, Player-5 verbally committed to attending (Arizona).”
Jahvon Quinerly committed to Arizona on Aug. 8.
Arizona released the following statement Tuesday:
“We were made aware of the Department of Justice’s investigation this morning and we are cooperating fully with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office. Assistant coach Emanuel Richardson was immediately suspended and relieved of all duties.
“We were appalled to learn of the allegations as they do not reflect the standards we hold ourselves to and require from our colleagues. The University of Arizona has a strong culture of compliance and the expectation is we follow the rules.”