Former Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson and UA head coach Sean Miller are no longer expected to be in the courthouse when the second college basketball corruption trial starts Monday in New York.
But Arizona will still be part of the proceedings.
While filing a list of 12 questions to be asked of prospective jurors last week, U.S. district attorneys said the UA, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, USC, Creighton and TCU were all victims of would-be agent Christian Dawkins and Adidas rep Merl Code.
Federal prosecutors say Code and Dawkins victimized the universities themselves by paying some of their assistant coaches, who then pledged to steer players toward Code and Dawkins for professional representation. The prosecution’s logic: The schools accepted players who were technically ineligible because they had taken payments. (The universities all collect federal grant money, which is one of the reasons why Code and Dawkins are in federal court.)
All prospective jurors will be asked Monday if they have any affiliation to those schools, including Arizona, or anything that would make it difficult to be fair and impartial in the case. They will first be asked if hearing evidence about college basketball could affect their ability to be fair, then asked if the following subjects would affect their ability to be fair and impartial:
- Follow any college sports and, if so, which sports and teams
- Are familiar with the NCAA
- Have any views on whether college athletes should be paid
- Played college sports
- Coached an amateur sports team
- Felt the government’s allegation that the universities are the victims would make it difficult to be fair
- Had any affiliation with USC, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, UA, Creighton or TCU
- Worked for a college or university
- Worked in the sports industry
- Felt evidence from wiretaps and/or search warrants of electronic devices and email accounts would affect their impartiality
- Had read, seen or heard anything about the FBI investigation into college basketball and the charges in the case.
The jury in October’s trial about college basketball corruption agreed with the prosecutors’ arguments that the universities were defrauded.
This trial centers on separate bribery charges, and the jury’s composition could be different. Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann wrote Friday that defense attorneys this time “will try to select a group of jurors that will be relatively skeptical of the government’s case or at least open-minded to the defense’s perspective.”
The defense will be allowed to strike 10 potential jurors without stating a reason; the government can strike six.
Federal complaints say that Richardson accepted $20,000 from Dawkins, with plans to use $15,000 of it to help lure a recruit. Richardson pleaded guilty to one count of federal bribery in January, part of a plea agreement that ended his scheduled role as a co-defendant along with Dawkins and Code. The terms of Richardson’s deal do not require further cooperation, and the former UA assistant has not been discussed as a potential witness for this week’s trial, according to his attorney, Craig Mordock.
Defense attorneys plan to call multiple assistant coaches, but have not yet named them.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that Miller would not have to testify, saying his actions are irrelevant to the bribery charges facing Dawkins. Miller has not been charged with any crime, but Dawkins’ attorney, Steve Haney, told Ramos in a pretrial hearing Friday that the government is aware of evidence that Miller has been paying players. Haney offered few details to reporters afterward, saying “you’ll have to be here to hear the evidence.”
Ramos said his decision to keep Miller and LSU coach Will Wade off the stand is “subject to being revisited depending on how the evidence at the trial plays out.”
In the first trial last October, Dawkins, Code and Adidas executive James Gatto were convicted when a jury found they defrauded schools by paying players or those around them to steer them toward Adidas-sponsored schools.
During that trial, Adidas rep T.J. Gassnola said he gave $15,000 to a family friend of former UA star Deandre Ayton in an effort to steer him toward Kansas, while the father of five-star forward Brian Bowen testified that he was told Arizona offered $50,000 for his son to play for the Wildcats.
Miller has vehemently denied that he knowingly violated NCAA rules, saying more than a year ago that “I have never paid a recruit or prospect or their family representative to come to Arizona. I never have and I never will.”
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