UA Assistant Hoops Coach Admits Taking Bribes

MANHATTAN (CN) — Former University of Arizona assistant basketball coach Emanuel ‘Book’ Richardson pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking $20,000 in cash bribes for steering student-athletes to certain financial advisers.

Richardson is the second former coach to accept a plea deal in the FBI’s two-year investigation of college basketball corruption. His plea deal could send him to prison for 18 to 24 months. He will be sentenced on April 24.

“As he admitted in court today, Emanuel Richardson, a former Arizona men’s basketball coach, abused his position as a mentor and coach to student-athletes for his own personal gain,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. “Richardson, entrusted to help players develop as athletes and young men, instead helped himself to the cash offered by unscrupulous agents and financial advisers.”

Prosecutors noted that Richardson told an undercover FBI agent: “I used to let kids talk to three or four guys, but I was like, why would you do that?  You know that’s like taking a kid to a BMW dealer, a Benz dealer, and a Porsche dealer. They like them all. … You have to pick for them.” 

Two other assistant coaches — University of Southern California’s Tony Bland and Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans — were among the 10 people arrested in September 2017. Among them were sports agents and financial advisers, such as Munish Sood, who also has pleaded guilty.

Bland, of USC, pleaded guilty this month to taking at least $4,100 in bribes to steer Trojans players to certain advisers and managers. Questions remain about another $13,000. He will be sentenced April 2.

Evans, of Oklahoma state, is headed to trial in April.

Former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person and former NBA referee Rashan Michel are set for trials in February.

U.S. Attorney Joon Kim told reporters in September 2017 that managers and advisers were “circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits.”

In October 2018, a federal jury convicted agent Christopher Dawkins, former Adidas executive James Gatto and consultant Merl Code of bribing relatives of prospects and concealing it.

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