Aspiring agent Christian Dawkins wrote of a plan to pay UA standout Rawle Alkins and his family $50,000 while he played for Arizona last season, ESPN reported in a lengthy story posted Sunday night.
The report also linked Dawkins to UA coach Sean Miller via phone records. Phones registered to Dawkins and Miller were connected multiple times between May 3 and July 2, 2017, ESPN reported, citing evidentiary files obtained from the federal trial involving college basketball. Thirteen of those calls lasted five minutes or longer.
Michael Schachter, the defense attorney for Adidas executive James Gatto, unsuccessfully tried to enter into evidence the fact that the FBI did not record a handful of calls between Miller and Dawkins, ESPN reported, even though the attorney said Miller was listed as a “target” of the FBI wiretaps.
“There are a number of calls that occurred that the defendants had with people that are very relevant to this investigation, and for whatever reason those calls simply were not recorded at all,” Schachter told U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, according to ESPN. “We can demonstrate that. For example, there are multiple calls with one of the targets of the wiretap, a person who was mentioned in opening statement, Sean Miller, who is a coach at the University of Arizona.”
ESPN reported that Dawkins sent an email to partner Munish Sood on Sept. 5, 2017, that detailed a plan to pay Alkins. The aspiring agent planned to pay Alkins $2,500 a month from September 2017 through April 2018, plus another $30,000 in travel expenses for Alkins’ family.
Dawkins also wrote that he wanted to give Alkins’ cousin, Rodney Labossiere, a share of his new sports management business.
“Rodney will get 25 percent of net income we generate from Rawle as well as additional players he brings in moving forward,” Dawkins wrote, according to ESPN. “Rodney has a bonus structure in his contract as well for delivering players at ($)10,000 for a first round pick, $2,000 for a second round pick.”
Dawkins and then-UA assistant coach Book Richardson were among 10 figures in and around college basketball who were arrested in September 2017 as a result of the federal investigation into college basketball. The first of three related trials concluded last week, with Dawkins, Gatto and Adidas rep Merl Code being convicted on federal fraud charges. Another trial is scheduled for February, while Richardson is scheduled for one in April.
The September 2017 federal complaints said Dawkins and Richardson were recorded at a meeting on July 20, 2017, in which Richardson “further committed to steer a particular student-athlete (“Player-6”) who was on the men’s basketball team at (a school identifiable as Arizona) to Dawkins and his company, stating, ‘I’m telling you (Dawkins is) getting (Player-6) ... there’s no if, ands about that. I’ve already talked with (Player-6’s) mom, I’ve talked with his cousin.’”
The September 2017 complaint said that on the same day, Dawkins referenced a player on last season’s UA team as one who “had already received payments, so we got no expenses there.”
Miller has referred all questions about the federal investigation back to one of his two previous statements. In October 2017, the coach said he recognized his responsibility to foster compliance, and in March he denied an ESPN report that he discussed paying star player Deandre Ayton, saying he has “never knowingly violated NCAA rules” while coaching at Arizona.
Arizona issued a statement Sunday that it was reviewing information that has surfaced since the trial concluded on Wednesday:
“The University of Arizona is aware of the information that has appeared in media reports regarding the just completed trial in New York,” the statement said. “We are continuing to review the matter and will take such steps as are deemed necessary and appropriate based upon credible and reliable evidence. Out of respect for the judicial and administrative processes involved, we have no further comment at this time.”
The Arizona Daily Star submitted a public records request in 2017 for Miller’s cellphone and email records, but Arizona has not responded to it. The same goes for a number of other requests involving Miller, Richardson and other basketball staffers.
Arizona has also denied multiple open-records requests made by ESPN, Sunday’s report stated. ESPN had requested any subpoenas the university received from the federal government for information and grand jury testimony related to the investigation.
The UA also declined to provide Miller’s cellphone records and his correspondence with university officials to ESPN, repeatedly citing “the balancing test established by the Arizona courts to protect the best interests of the state” in its refusal to release the records.
Dawkins did not say whether he’d paid Alkins. If he did, Alkins could be declared retroactively ineligible for some or all of the games he played in by the NCAA. Ineligible players can result in vacated wins and/or the return of postseason revenue.
Testimony from the New York trial also could put Ayton’s eligibility into question. Former travel-ball director T.J. Gassnola testified that he gave a family friend of Ayton $15,000 in an effort to steer him toward Kansas. It’s unknown if the friend passed on any money to Ayton or his family.
Any allegations that are later found to be NCAA violations could result in sanctions for the Wildcats, and Miller could also face individual NCAA penalties for the actions of his assistants even if he is found to not have known of them. NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199 states that head coaches are responsible for the actions of their direct or indirect reports unless they can “rebut the presumption of responsibility.”
The NCAA is not expected to fully investigate allegations resulting from the federal investigation or trials until all three of them are complete. The federal investigation and this month’s trial have alleged, among other things:
- That then-UA associate head coach Joe Pasternack offered $50,000 for recruit Brian Bowen to play for the Wildcats. Bowen’s father testified that Dawkins told him of the offer.
- That Richardson took $20,000, some of which he “appears to have kept for himself and some of which he appears to have provided to at least one prospective high school basketball players,” according to the complaint. In exchange for the payments, Richardson agreed to use his influence over the athletes he coached to retain two advisers, Christian Dawkins and Munish Sood.
- That Arizona offered $150,000 for Nassir Little, according to a conversation between Adidas reps that was detailed in the federal complaint and discussed during the trial.