Wiretap Catches Assistant Claiming Miller Paid Ayton

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An FBI wiretap already led to the suspension of one high-profile NCAA basketball coach earlier this year, but now it appears that another coach may have some explaining to do.

ESPN reports that federal prosecutors have a recording of a phone call between former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson and aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins in which Richardson tells Dawkins that Arizona head coach Sean Miller was paying star player Deandre Ayton $10,000 a month while he was enrolled at the school.

Prosecutors played the call, intercepted on June 20, 2017 for a jury as part of an ongoing trial over corruption in college basketball.

The intercepted conversation detailed payments to Ayton and discussed how much money Dawkins’ agency would agree to pay Richardson. Dawkins — along with former Adidas executive Merl Code — was charged with bribing Richardson and other assistant coaches to influence their players to sign with Dawkins’ agency and certain financial advisors once they turned pro.

Other recordings show Dawkins meeting with Miller and discussing payments to Ayton. Ayton became the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

In testimony on Wednesday, Dawkins said that he didn’t want to pay assistant coaches because he thought they lacked the ability to sway players. Dawkins said that undercover FBI agents urged him to find coaches to bribe, but defended the notion of paying players on the stand.

“They are the only kids in college who can’t get paid legally,” Dawkins said.

The University of Arizona released a statement, saying that it “takes the information presented in court today very seriously.”

“[Arizona] remains committed to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct which includes competing within the rules of the NCAA and Pac-12 Conference. We will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA and with other ongoing investigations into this matter in the best interest of the University and the men’s basketball program,” the school’s statement reads.

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