UA coach arrest shows little impact on basketball excitement

UA coach arrest shows little impact on basketball excitement

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It has been the big discussion among University of Arizona Athletics' fans ever since the news of an assistant basketball coach's arrest early Tuesday morning.

10 men - including University of Arizona assistant basketball coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson - were charged with using bribes to influence star athletes at their respective schools.

The impact on the future of the basketball program has also impacted student-athletes in other sports.

Arizona Wildcats football players were willing to share their thoughts Tuesday evening on Richardson's arrest. Speaking with Tucson News Now outside McKale Center, they expect to feel the impact of the figurative dark cloud hanging over the athletic department.

"You never really want your school to be in the midst of stuff like that, so it's just kind of crazy to see that," said Sammy Morrison, a redshirt sophomore cornerback.

Among the group was Dante Blissit, a freshman defensive end, who said it's not something they expected.

"But things happen. People make mistakes. Things are going to end up how it ends up," he said.

As of Tuesday night, the players said the football coaches had not yet discussed Richardson's arrest with the team.

The school's bio states Richardson has been with Arizona Wildcats Basketball since 2009. He has been alongside head coach Sean Miller as the program rose to its current powerful level, helping guide the Wildcats to a 220-66 (.769) record.

"Emanuel 'Book' Richardson has firmly established himself as one of the finest recruiters in college basketball," the bio states. "His efforts in building and strengthening UA's recruiting ties across the country has helped Arizona land top-10 recruiting classes in each of the last seven years, including five top-five classes during that period of time."

Prosecutors said Richardson was paid a total of $20,000 in bribes, some of which he kept for himself and some of which he gave to at least one high school athlete to get him to play for Arizona.

UA said Richardson, who is facing charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, solicitation of bribes by an agent of a federally funded organization, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and travel act conspiracy, has been suspended and the school will cooperate with authorities.

During Richardson's tenure as assistant coach, the Wildcats went to five Sweet 16s, three Elite Eights, four Pac-12 championships in the regular-season, and two conference tournament titles.

It's why the football players, who are basketball fans themselves, said excitement for the 2017-2018 season has not been diminished.

"I'm still hoping for them to ball out, you know what I mean? Still looking forward to a Final Four and all that kind of stuff," Blissit said excitedly.

"The main thing I want to know is: What will be the disciplinary actions?" said Kwesi Mashach, a senior cornerback. "Because that will decide whether we can go to the tournament and stuff like that. So that's kind of the biggest question right now. But we're definitely still excited to see our basketball team ball out."

Richardson was suspended and relieved of his duties as assistant coach, the UA stated.

He posted a $50,000 signature bond Tuesday afternoon and was released from custody.

Essentially, he has agreed to appear in federal court in New York for this case, according to attorney Brick Storts, who handled Richardson's extradition hearing.

The next hearing in New York is set for Tuesday, October 10.

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