In a victim impact statement filed in federal court in advance of Book Richardson's upcoming sentencing, University of Arizona general counsel Laura Todd Johnson said the school is "facing the prospect of potentially significant sanctions and penalties from the NCAA flowing from the unlawful actions involved in this case."
Johnson also wrote that the university has had to hire outside counsel at "significant expense" to conduct internal reviews and investigations and guide the UA through an NCAA investigation that "is just now getting underway in the aftermath of the criminal trial." (A UA spokesman told the Star on May 3 that "there is an NCAA investigation underway." However, an athletic department statement released the next day said "any reports stating that the NCAA has either 'started' or 'launched' a new investigation at the University of Arizona are entirely false." Johnson's victim impact statement was written May 22).
Although Richardson was alleged to have taken $20,000 in part to help land a recruit, Johnson wrote that the UA believes none of that money was ever given to a current player or recruit "based on all the information presently known to us."
"Additionally, Mr. Richardson recently met with the University’s principal outside counsel and me and expressed his remorse, acceptance of responsibility, and the recognition that his failure of judgment caused significant harm to the University community, as well as to himself and his family," Johnson wrote. "We appreciated his openness, candor, and gesture of goodwill."
Johnson said UA believes in "redemption and seeing the good in people," but that Richardson should be held accountable and "deserves some form of punishment."
Richardson is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in New York City. Johnson's letter was presented as an exhibit to a government pre-sentencing submission. Richardson's attorney, Craig Mordock, is asking for a sentence that does not include jail time. (Former USC assistant coach Tony Bland was sentenced Wednesday to community service).
Government prosecutors said Richardson abused his role as assistant coach by promising to steer student-athletes to the new agency run by Christian Dawkins, even arranging a meeting with agency representatives and the cousin/handler for then-UA standout Rawle Alkins.
An undercover agent "thanked Richardson for facilitating this meeting, and Richardson responded, 'I did my job,'" the government submission read. "Thereafter, as had been arranged by Richardson, Dawkins, Sood, and UC-2 met with the cousin and 'handler' of Alkins.
"During that meeting, Alkins’ cousin indicated, in substance and in part, that Richardson had recommended to the cousin that Alkins should work with Dawkins and his new company."
Prosecutors argued against Mordock's statement that UA has not been penalized or had a player ruled ineligible, saying that the program has been severely harmed and could face a number of possible sanctions down the road.
"As Richardson’s counsel well knows, the NCAA has yet to impose sanctions on any of the universities who had coaches accept bribes and, in fact, the NCAA deferred conducting its own investigation and imposing penalties until after the federal criminal cases had concluded," prosecutors wrote.
"As is noted in the University of Arizona’s victim impact statement, the NCAA’s investigation is 'just now getting underway in the aftermath of the criminal trial.' Future penalties could include, among other things, limitations on a university’s participation in postseason play; financial penalties including requirements that an institution pay a fine, return revenue received from a specific athletics event or series of events, or reductions in or elimination of monetary distribution by the NCAA; limitations on the number of athletic scholarships that may be provided by the university to student-athletes in the future; and recruiting restrictions including restrictions on the ability to conduct off-campus recruiting activities.
"For these reasons, Richardson’s claim that he did not intend to harm the University is, at best, misleading; while he may have hoped never to get caught and thereby risk harm to the University, Richardson — with vast experience in NCAA basketball — was well aware of what would or could happen were his bribery scheme exposed, and acted in spite of this."
The pre-sentencing submissions from Mordock and the prosecutors are attached to this post. Johnson's letter can be found at the end of the prosecutors' submission.