The University of Arizona has confirmed that the school may be facing a significant fines and penalties related to assistant basketball coach Book Richardson’s conviction in a federal bribery case.
Richardson plead guilty back in January to accepting $20,000 in exchange for a promise to steer student-athletes to agent Christian Dawkins. Prosecutors said he planned to use $15,000 of the money to entice a particular recruit to attend Arizona. As part of a plea agreement, Richardson agreed to plead guilty to one charge of federal bribery, while four other charges were dismissed.
UA general counsel Laura Todd Johnson said in a statement that the school is "facing the prospect of potentially significant sanctions and penalties from the NCAA flowing from the unlawful actions involved in this case."
According to azcental.com, UA has also had to hire outside counsel at “significant expense” to conduct an internal review and guide the NCAA through its own investigation, which is just now getting underway in the wake of the criminal trial.
UA does not believe Richardson ever actually delivered the money he received to any player or recruit.
"Additionally, Mr. Richardson recently met with the University’s principal outside counsel and me and expressed his remorse, acceptance of responsibility, and the recognition that his failure of judgment caused significant harm to the University community, as well as to himself and his family," Johnson wrote. "We appreciated his openness, candor, and gesture of goodwill."
Johnson went on to say that while UA believes in forgiveness and redemption, the school also believes that Richardson deserves “some form of punishment."
Richardson is due to be sentenced today in New York City, and Johnson’s letter was presented as an exhibit to a government pre-sentencing submission.
Prosecutors in the case seemed frustrated that the NCAA has yet to impose any real consequences on schools that were caught up in the probe of college basketball.
"As Richardson’s counsel well knows, the NCAA has yet to impose sanctions on any of the universities who had coaches accept bribes and, in fact, the NCAA deferred conducting its own investigation and imposing penalties until after the federal criminal cases had concluded," prosecutors wrote.
AZcentral.com suggests that future penalties could include, among other things, “limitations on a university’s participation in postseason play; financial penalties including requirements that an institution pay a fine, return revenue received from a specific athletics event or series of events, or reductions in or elimination of monetary distribution by the NCAA; limitations on the number of athletic scholarships that may be provided by the university to student-athletes in the future; and recruiting restrictions including restrictions on the ability to conduct off-campus recruiting activities.”
"For these reasons, Richardson’s claim that he did not intend to harm the University is, at best, misleading,” prosecutors wrote. “While he may have hoped never to get caught and thereby risk harm to the University, Richardson — with vast experience in NCAA basketball — was well aware of what would or could happen were his bribery scheme exposed, and acted in spite of this."