Jury selection begins in second trial over NCAA recruitment
NEW YORK (AP) — A jury was selected Monday to hear evidence in the trial of an aspiring agent and a former amateur coach charged with bribing big-school coaches to boost their business prospects with amateur basketball players.
Opening statements by lawyers were scheduled to occur Tuesday morning in Manhattan federal court in the trial of business manager Christian Dawkins and ex-amateur league director Merl Code.
The trial is the second of three resulting from arrests made 19 months ago, when prosecutors described a widespread bribery scheme in which financial advisers and business managers allegedly paid assistant coaches and athletes’ families to steer players to big-program schools.
Testimony in a trial projected to last two weeks is expected to center on bribes paid to an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina and later Oklahoma State University, an assistant coach at the University of Arizona and an assistant coach at the University of Southern California.
The now ex-coaches — Tony Bland at USC, Emanuel “Book” Richardson at Arizona and Lamont Evans at South Carolina and Oklahoma State — have pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy charges and are awaiting sentencing.
A fourth ex-assistant coach — Chuck Person of Auburn University — also has pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing. He had been scheduled to go to trial in June.
U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos told prospective jurors that the scandal also affected Creighton University and Texas Christian University.
Assistant coaches Preston Murphy of Creighton and Corey Barker of TCU recently were placed on administrative leave by their schools after each was accused of taking a $6,000 bribe from Dawkins to send prospective clients his way.
Ramos told prospective jurors that Code and Dawkins “deny all the charges and are presumed innocent.”
Code and Dawkins already were convicted in October on similar charges and were each sentenced to six months in prison. This time, the focus is on bribes to coaches instead of players’ families.