By Oliver Mauntel
In September of 2017, Arizona basketball assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson was arrested following a two-year corruption and bribes investigation. Richardson reportedly accepted $20,000 in bribes and paid for a recruit to sign with Arizona. In exchange, Richardson agreed to encourage Arizona players to sign with Christian Dawkins and financial advisor Munish Sood. Dawkins worked for Andy Miller, an ASM Sports agent. Richardson has since been charged with six felonies, facing up to 60 years in prison as well as $1.5 million in fines.
In October, Arizona head coach Sean Miller denied being aware of the alleged scheme. However, recent findings imply that Miller was not only aware of the scheme, but involved.
According to FBI wiretaps, Miller discussed a $100,000 payment to ensure that 5-star recruit DeAndre Ayton would enroll at Arizona. Ayton is now starring as a freshman at Arizona, and is likely to be a top-5 draft pick in June.
This situation is very similar to the Brian Bowen-Louisville case, which resulted in the firing of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. Pitino also denied the initial allegations, but it was discovered that he was involved with a $100,000 payment that was to take place. Sean Miller’s job is obviously now in jeopardy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is fired sooner rather than later. Miller had a clean track record at Arizona up until this point, but there is no way he can avoid the consequences of these allegations, if they are true.
Yahoo! Sports identified other schools that are involved in impermissible benefits of players and families. Notable schools include Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, USC, and Alabama. Current college basketball stars that were mentioned in the obtained documents include Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr., Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Alabama’s Collin Sexton, Kentucky’s Kevin Knox, and San Diego State’s Malik Pope, who has since been suspended. The list of former college athletes and now current NBA players that were mentioned includes Dallas’ Dennis Smith Jr., LA’s Kyle Kuzma, Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz, and Phoenix’s Josh Jackson.
At this point, the NCAA has opened a can of worms that they cannot close. This is only the tip of the iceberg of what they surely will discover about what is going on behind the scenes in college basketball. This is the worst timing for these reports to have come out, considering March is just days away. In order to prevent the continuous corruption of college basketball (and football too), I believe the NCAA must give the athletes a slice of the pie. These athletes generate millions of dollars for their respective universities each season, yet they don’t see a dime. True, they receive full-ride scholarships, but there will always be agencies seeking to take advantage of the athletes’ often desperate financial situations. If the athletes receive even just a couple grand, it would decrease the likelihood that they (or their families) would engage in schemes with opportunistic agencies.
DeAndre Ayton will play against Oregon Saturday night, despite the fact Sean Miller is not coaching, which is quite interesting. Miller’s job is likely gone, but as far as the rest of the coaches supposedly involved in the schemes, it is still up in the air. With March madness closing in, the craziness of all the allegations is even more magnified, and I am extremely interested to watch how it plays out.