According to the FBI, Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller has spoken about a $100,000 bribe he paid to lock in a top basketball recruit, and the FBI says they have it on tape. The recordings are part of the FBI’s wide-ranging investigation into corruption in college basketball.
On the tapes, coach Miller is allegedly heard telling Michigan-based sports agent Christian Dawkins that he paid the princely sum to get freshman Deandre Ayton signed to play with the Wildcats, ESPN reported.
According to sources with knowledge of the recording, Miller is heard telling Dawkins that when it comes to the money, Dawkins should speak only with the Wildcats coach as he worked to lock in the player.
The FBI claims to have an incredible 3,000 hours of wiretap recordings from its investigation into corruption across college basketball. Many of the recordings center around Dawkins who is a central figure in the FBI investigation.
Coach Miller was keen to get Deandre Ayton to attend Arizona because the young man is one of the top prospects in the country. TheBahamas-born Ayton is currently ranked as the number two prospect for the NBA draft for this coming season. The seven-foot-one Wildcats center is also the leading candidate for player of the year averaging 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
Also under scrutiny is former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who the FBI says took a $20,000 bribe to sign a player with the Wildcats. Arizona formally fired Richardson on January 11.
Along with Richardson, other college basketball figures charged with crimes are Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, Auburn’s Chuck Person, and Southern California’s’ Tony Bland. Several Adidas executives, including James Gatto and Merl Code, were charged in connection with the case. Former NBA referee Rashan Michel was also implicated in the investigation.
The FBI claims that up to 20 Division I players engaged in violations of NCAA rules. Schools involved include Duke, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Southern California and Kansas.
Christian Dawkins apparently became a chief informant for the Bureau when he was indicted on wire fraud charges after an investigation into bribery with Michigan State University basketball star Miles Bridges, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Dawkins had worked as a sports rep for Miller and was trying to launch his own sports business when he became involved in the various schemes to secure players.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.