Former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson told undercover FBI agents that he paid $40,000 to a high school coach to ensure that former guard Rawle Alkins was academically eligible to play for the Wildcats, according to a transcript of a meeting obtained by ESPN from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York.
During a June 20, 2017, meeting with aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, financial planner Munish Sood and two undercover FBI agents, Richardson said that Alkins needed one more class to be eligible under NCAA rules, and that an unidentified coach wanted $40,000 to add the class to his official transcript.
“It’s ingenious,” Richardson said, according to the transcript. “Initially, I was mad at his high school coach, but I would say it’s ingenious. He said, ‘Book, I need $40,000 to get this on his transcript. If he does not get this class, he’s gonna be a partial qualifier. He’s not gonna have 16 credits to graduate.’
“So long story short, I said OK. You need 40 grand for that class. He said, ‘Yes, Book, because it’s not just me doing it. I gotta take care of some people.’ I said, ‘[Expletive] you I’m not doing it.’ Tried to play poker and one week turned into a month, and I said, ‘Oh s—.'”
Yahoo first reported the contents of the transcript on Wednesday.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said the transcript was part of the evidence from a federal criminal trial this past spring, when Dawkins and former Adidas consultant Merl Code were convicted of paying bribes to Richardson, former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans and former USC assistant Tony Bland to steer their players to Dawkins’ sports management company and certain financial planners.
Video of the meeting wasn’t shown to the jury, and a transcript of the meeting wasn’t read into the record during the trial.
Alkins, who played at Arizona for two seasons before turning pro in 2018, attended Christ the King Regional High School in Queens, New York, for three years and then Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, for his senior year.
“I tried to get someone else to get him a summer school course,” Richardson said during the meeting, according to the transcript. “Couldn’t do it because what [the coach] had was a seal. He had the school seal, and the great thing about the seal that he had, the school, and Bishop Ford closed down in Brooklyn, so you can’t investigate. You can’t investigate. So when the NCAA says I need to see the coursework and all — the school’s closed.”
Richardson, who worked as an Arizona assistant from 2009 to 2017, pleaded guilty in January to accepting $20,000 in bribes and was sentenced to three months in prison and two years of probation as part of a plea agreement. He is currently being held at a correctional facility in Otisville, New York, and is scheduled for release next month.
During the meeting, Richardson also told the undercover agents that he was paying Alkins’ cousin, Rodney Labossiere, $2,000 per month after he moved to Tucson, Arizona.
“I told his cousin, ‘I’ll give you two grand a month to make sure that he works,'” Richardson said. “But he brought him, his wife and his child. Wrong move.”
Richardson told the agents that when Dawkins questioned what he was doing, he replied: “I said, ‘Well, here’s the one thing: if anything happens, it’s their word against mine. And when it’s cash, you know, I don’t know what they’re talking about.'”
Richardson told the agents that Alkins didn’t receive any of the $40,000 he allegedly paid the high school coach.
“I felt that the kid was being done an injustice and a disservice because what — the high school coach again, it was ingenious, but when you bamboozle everyone and that kid didn’t get any of the 40, that’s the problem I have,” Richardson said.
“Because his mom still, she’s gotta get places. And that was my whole point. If I do something for you guys, I wanna make sure that mom, she’s at every game. So she’s not [expletive] with us. ‘Cause I’ve always said this: When you give someone something ahead of time and say, ‘Hey, you book these tickets’ — now they’re not calling you two days ahead to say, ‘Oh, Book, you’re not gonna believe it. I never booked this flight. Only thing that’s left is first class and it’s $1,500 one way.’ What? So season’s going on. I’m like, ‘Just do it.’ So I had ‘just do it’ moments for the last seven years and that’s not benefited me.”
Arizona is among at least seven Division I programs being investigated by the NCAA for alleged violations that were uncovered during the federal government’s investigation into college basketball corruption.