NEW YORK — They stood and hugged, and this was not a short embrace.
Book Richardson and Tony Bland, once two of the most prominent assistant coaches in Pac-12 men’s basketball, now in the throes of one of the biggest scandals in college basketball history, bonded together moments after being given their bond instructions.
The two coaches spent most of their morning in silence inside Courtroom 5A of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse in lower Manhattan.
Richardson and Bland face a myriad of felony charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery, solicitation of bribes by an agent of a federally funded organization, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and travel act conspiracy.
For both Richardson and Bland: a $100,000 bond, cosigned by two financially responsible individuals, pretrial supervision that includes travel restricted to their homes and to and from New York, and the surrendering of passports. Both have preliminary hearings scheduled for Nov. 9.
Auburn associate head coach Chuck Person, Adidas executive Merl Code and financial manager Rashan Michel also appeared in court on Tuesday. Adidas executive Jim Gatto and Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans have their first appearances scheduled for Thursday.
The 44-year-old Richardson was joined by his wife, Erin, his lawyers David Axelrod and Craig Mordock, and friends. He appeared in good spirits in the clerk’s office, pacing as he awaited instruction on posting bond. As he exited the courtroom, Richardson — dressed in a blue suit and red tie, Arizona’s colors — fist-bumped a reporter and flashed a reserved smile.
Mordock was asked how Richardson was handling the appearance.
“Not well,” before adding that Richardson was “very nervous” about the hearing.
“Criminal trials aren’t about media conferences or headlines,” he said. “They’re about evidence.”
Tuesday’s appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker came two weeks after Richardson was arrested at his Tucson home. Richardson appeared in front of U.S. District Magistrate Judge D. Thomas Ferraro later that day, and his bond was set at $50,000. The trial was then transferred to New York.
Richardson faces up to 60 years in prison and up to a $1.5 million fine for his role in a conspiracy that Joon Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, called “the dark underbelly of college basketball.” The conspiracy was uncovered during an FBI sting that focused on improprieties throughout college basketball.
A federal complaint says Richardson, the longest-serving assistant on UA coach Sean Miller’s staff, asked for and received $20,000 from an aspiring sports agent. In exchange, the complaint said, Richardson promised to deliver current and future Wildcats to the agent when their college careers were over. According to the complaint, Richardson then paid $15,000 to a top high school point guard, believed to be New Jersey’s Jahvon Quinerly. Quinerly verbally committed to Arizona shortly after.
Richardson listened quietly Tuesday as the federal judge read the charges against him. Gone was the expression that made him one of the Wildcats’ most colorful coaches.
Richardson followed his attorneys out of the courthouse following Tuesday’s appearance, gripping his wife’s left hand tightly. He moved quickly as photographers swarmed to him, though much of the media — which included multiple reporters from ESPN and Yahoo, among others — had already left.
An hour earlier, Richardson and Bland had hugged and gone their separate ways. They will return in a month for the next step of the arduous process. Richardson and his lawyers say they intend to fight the charges.
“Book is not guilty today, he was not guilty two weeks ago and he’s not guilty tomorrow,” Mordock said. “He will remain not guilty until the government presents evidence that says he is.”