The court documents revealed Tuesday in the ongoing FBI investigation into alleged corruption in college basketball paint a disturbing picture of the sport’s inner workings.
‘You can make millions off of one kid,’ NBA agent Christian Dawkins allegedly told an undercover agent posing as the financial backer in a bribery scheme aimed at pushing college basketball players into the waiting arms of agents and financial advisors.
On Tuesday the FBI and Justice Department announced a massive crackdown on what they have described as the ‘dark underbelly’ of college basketball after 10 people – including four assistant coaches – were arrested as part of a widespread investigation into systemic bribery and corruption involving several schools.
According to acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan Joon H. Kim, the investigation was launched in 2015 and focuses on ‘the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the N.C.A.A.’
Specifically, two schemes were investigated: one in which recruits and their families were paid to go to particular universities and another in which player advisors were paid to persuade those players to sign with certain managers, agents, and financial advisors.
No schools have been charged with any wrongdoing, but the University of Louisville announced it ‘received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting.’
The University of Arizona is also connected to the investigation as assistant Wildcats coach Emanuel Richardson is accused of taking bribes for his efforts to persuade his players to sign with Dawkins and financial advisor Munish Sood.
According to the documents, an undercover FBI agent working on behalf of Dawkins and Sood helped funnel $20,000 to Richardson to help recruit an unnamed player to Arizona (the player is referred to only as ‘Player-5’).
In exchange for the bribe, Richardson agreed to use his influence over Arizona players to ‘pressure them’ to retain Dawkins and Sood as their agent and financial adviser, respectively, upon turning pro.
Sood would go on to discuss the possibility of paying other coaches at Arizona with a cooperating FBI witness in the case, saying that he would be meeting a pair of Wildcat coaches for dinner during March’s Pac-12 Tournament.
The FBI observed the dinner in Las Vegas with Sood talking with two unidentified males. The next day, Soon had three phone calls with a number assigned to Richardson and two more calls with another Arizona assistant, before telling the cooperating witness that the coaches were ‘interested in definitely working with us.’
‘As of right now, [the Arizona coaches] haven’t asked for anything, but I’m sure when the time comes, they will, right?’ Sood said to the witness, according to the federal documents.
In early May, Sood and Dawkins had a conversation that was intercepted by wiretap in which Sood offered to help fund Dawkins’s new management company. (Dawkins was fired by ASM sports earlier in the year after it was revealed that he had made around $42,000 in Uber charges on an NBA player’s credit card, according to the NBA players’ association. ASM was raided on Tuesday in connection with the FBI investigation and founder Andy Miller’s computer was seized).
On or around May 2, according to the documents, Sood and Dawkins had a conversation — also intercepted by the wiretap — where they discussed the possibility of Dawkins starting his own management company.
‘We can help you fund it,’ Sood concluded.
That month, the FBI introduced an undercover agent to Sood and Dawkins through the cooperating witness, who said the undercover agent was a ‘financial backer’ and someone ‘interested in helping to provide funding’ for Dawkins.
In conversations that the documents claim were recorded on audio and video, Sood would go on to meet with the undercover agent in Miami to discuss building a new sports management agency that intended to pay coaches to help obtain clients.
Days later in New York, the undercover agent asked Dawkins how he could ‘guarantee’ a player would sign with their management agency after turning pro.
‘If we take care of everybody and everything is done, we control everything,’ Dawkins replied, according to the documents. ‘You can make millions off of one kid.’
Weeks later, the witness, undercover agent, and Sood met in New Jersey to discuss the management agency. During that meeting they all took part in a phone call with Dawkins, according to the court documents.