Former Arizona assistant Emanuel "Book" Richardson told undercover agents he paid $40,000 to a "high school coach" to help ensure the academic eligibility of former Wildcats player Rawle Alkins.
Public record from the trial of Dawkins and former Adidas consultant Merl Code this spring includes the transcript of the conversation, as first reported by Yahoo Sports. Richardson made multiple references to the $40,000 payment made to have Alkins’ transcript amended so he would be eligible to play his freshman college season in 2016-17. The transcript also includes a discussion between Richardson, Dawkins, financial adviser Munish Sood and undercover FBI agents Jeff D’Angelo and Jill Bailey where the coach also speaks about arranging payment of “two grand” every month to Alkins’ cousin, who he said moved to Tucson with him.
Richardson said Alkins' high school coach said he needed the $40,000 payment to get a class put on the guard's transcript so he would have the 16 credits needed to graduate and obtain immediate NCAA eligibility. Richardson said he questioned the coach's plan to complete Alkins’s transcript at first but then decided it was “ingenious" after trying other undisclosed means unsuccessfully.
Alkins attended Christ the King Regional High School in Queens, N.Y. for three years and spent his senior year at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C. He was a five-star, top-20 recruit in the class of 2016. Alkins ultimately spent two years at Arizona before forgoing his final two seasons of college eligibility to enter the 2018 NBA draft, where he went undrafted. He last played for the Chicago Bulls on a two-way contract.
Richardson did not say where he got the money to pay the coach to amend Alkins' high school records in any of the public transcripts. He did, however, discuss the difficulties in having to financially support recruits’ families and handle changing demands.
“So, again, is it something different each year?” Richardson said, per Yahoo Sports. “It is. Like I said, $40,000 to do that was totally extreme. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would not do it. I'd try to barter something. I'd give blood. I'd give semen, something.”
The conversation was recorded by the FBI in June 2017 but the transcript was not previously published in the media. The conversation was not used as evidence or played in court earlier this year when Richardson was on trial. The former Wildcat coach was sentenced in June to three months in prison and two years of supervised release for his role in the NCAA basketball federal bribery case. He is currently serving his sentence in a federal correctional institute in Otisville, New York, after agreeing to plead guilty to a bribery charge not related to the alleged payments to Alkins’ family or his coach.
Richardson was one of 10 people arrested in September 2017 as a result of a federal investigation and the NCAA college basketball corruption trial. He entered a guilty plea in January to charges that he accepted $20,000 in bribes to influence certain Arizona players to hire agent Christian Dawkins, who was found guilty on two bribery charges in May.
Richarson also reportedly told Dawkins that head coach Sean Miller was paying Deandre Ayton $10,000 to make sure he would sign with the Wildcats. Federal prosecutors played the intercepted phone call in court in May, but did not play any clips regarding Alkins.
Academic fraud and payments to a player’s family are the most serious infractions on the NCAA's scale. Book's trial and the FBI investigation have already implicated Arizona in numerous other potential violations. The NCAA is now investigating in the wake of the federal investigation. Head coach Sean Miller has maintained he had no knowledge of or involvement in any violations within his program.
Steve Thompson, attorney for Sean Miller, declined comment to Yahoo Sports as did an NCAA spokeswoman. Arizona officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment for the publication and Richardson was not available for comment.