NEW YORK — Aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins testified Thursday that audio played in court included a discussion about UA coach Sean Miller paying players — before objections and the judge’s subsequent rulings kept him from answering further questions.
Dawkins testified that he had a “pretty good relationship” with Miller, whom Dawkins has said was paying players.
The defense rested following Dawkins’ second day of testimony. Closing arguments in the federal bribery trial against Dawkins and former Adidas rep Merl Code are scheduled for Friday.
Prosecutors say Dawkins bribed assistant basketball coaches, who then promised to steer their best players to a company — LOYD, Inc. — co-owned by Dawkins, financial planner Munish Sood and an undercover FBI agent posing as an investor.
Over two days’ worth of testimony, Dawkins stated repeatedly that he believed players should be paid. He testified Wednesday that bribing coaches, whether they were head coaches or assistants, was bad business because most high school stars are coming into college with agents.
“This idea that it’s an amateur world is not real,” he said.
During cross examination on Thursday, defense attorney Mark C. Moore asked Dawkins about Miller.
“You never paid the head coach a dime, did you?” Moore asked.
“Never,” Dawkins said.
“Because the head coach was a friend of yours, correct?” Moore asked.
“We had a pretty good relationship, yes,” Dawkins said.
“OK. And I know you might not want to say this, but you knew the head coach was paying players themselves, right?” Moore asked.
The prosecution then objected, and it was upheld by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos. Ramos ruled two weeks ago that Miller and LSU coach Will Wade did not have to testify in the trial because their actions were irrelevant to the charges facing Dawkins and Code. Neither coach has been charged with a crime.
Moore, the defense attorney, then continued.
“I’ll rephrase and ask a very specific question, and if you’d answer yes or no …” he said.
“On this call, yes, DX7” — referring to defense exhibit 7, a wiretapped phone call between Dawkins and Code on June 28, 2017 — “there is a discussion about Sean Miller and him paying players. Is that correct, Mr. Dawkins?” Moore asked.
“Yes,” Dawkins said.
Later, Dawkins testified that he didn’t think paying players was wrong.
“You can’t defraud a school,” Dawkins said. “I don’t even know how that’s possible by players getting money. The school’s getting money. It’s ridiculous.”
“And Mr. Miller at Arizona, he knew what was going on, correct?” Moore asked.
The prosecution objected again, and it was upheld again by the judge.
Throughout the trial, jurors have watched secretly recorded videos and heard audio in which Dawkins boasted about his relationship with Miller.
On a video shown to jurors last week, Dawkins said Miller told him he was “taking care” of star center Deandre Ayton himself, but wanted to turn things over to the aspiring agent. Government witness Marty Blazer testified that he believed “taking care” meant “taking care of payments.”
On Wednesday, prosecutors introduced a June 2017 wiretap in which former UA assistant coach Book Richardson said Miller was paying Ayton a monthly fee.
“What (did) he do?” Dawkins said.
“I told you, 10,” Richardson said.
“He’s putting up some real money for them (N-words),” Dawkins said. “He told me he’s getting killed.”
“But that’s his fault,” Richardson said.
On another phone call, Dawkins said Miller was “taking care of Rawle (Alkins) and them,” referring to the former UA wing.
The UA issued a statement Wednesday night saying it “takes the information presented in court today very seriously and remains committed to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct which includes competing within the rules of the NCAA and the 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,” it read.