ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Sean Miller, former Arizona assistant Book Richardson back on speaking terms

Dec 29, 2022, 9:13 AM
Director of Basketball Operations Ryan Reynolds, associate head coach Joe Pasternack, head coach Se...
Director of Basketball Operations Ryan Reynolds, associate head coach Joe Pasternack, head coach Sean Miller, assistant coaches Emanuel Richardson and Mark Phelps, Dusan Ristic #14 and Lauri Markkanen #10 of the Arizona Wildcats look on on November 25, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Sean Miller and his former Arizona Wildcats assistant coach Book Richardson on Wednesday spoke for the first time since the latter was arrested on bribery charges by the FBI in September 2017.

They met briefly following Xavier’s win at St. John’s, reports ESPN’s Myron Medcalf. Miller is in his first year as Xavier’s head coach after taking a year off following his departure from Arizona.

After he completed his postgame radio interview, Miller embraced Richardson, whom he’d distanced himself from while the infractions case against Arizona persisted.

“He said, ‘I love you,’ and I said, ‘I know,'” said Richardson, who was an assistant on Miller’s staff during his first stint at Xavier.

Richardson also said he joked with Miller that he “nearly gave the game away” after St. John’s had cut an 18-point second-half deficit to five late in the matchup. It was only the second Division I game the former Arizona assistant had attended since his arrest, he said.

Richardson was formally fired by Arizona in January 2018.

According to a June 2022 story in The Athletic by Seth Davis, Richardson said he had only rubbed shoulders with his former boss once, at a 2019 high school tournament in Arizona.

“I don’t even know how I’m supposed to feel towards him anymore,” Richardson told Davis over the summer. “Am I supposed to hate him? I have no ill feelings towards him. I’m just saying, with everything that’s happened, just see how I’m doing, man. Just care about that. I can only assume lawyers are telling him not to say anything, but I worked for you for 11 years. Just see how I’m doing.”

It appears the end of the NCAA’s investigation into Arizona’s recruiting practices in mid-December has opened Miller up to making amends with Richardson.

Richardson told Medcalf on Wednesday he felt like their relationship is in a “new chapter” after the brief exchange. Miller expressed to Richardson that he wanted to sit down for a longer conversation, the latter told Medcalf.

Richardson is currently working in the grassroots ranks in New York.

The NCAA investigation about their alleged infractions formally came to an end on Dec. 14 when an Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP) committee hit the former Wildcats assistant with a 10-year show-cause for his role in the recruiting scandal that hovered over Arizona and ultimately led the school to not renew Miller’s contract.

Richardson, the IARP said, did not disclose some information to help the investigation.

The penalty will keep Richardson from coaching in the college ranks for that time period and likely limit him beyond it.

The IARP ruling two weeks ago put more minor penalties on the Arizona men’s basketball program, which had already self-sanctioned itself with a postseason ban in Miller’s final year, and more.

But it did not penalize Miller, who took the 2021-22 season off — he contributed to The Field of 68 media network — before rejoining the Xavier program he led from 2004-09.

Miller coached at Arizona from 2009-21.

The NCAA’s IARP ended the investigation, which took about five years — or 1,905 days — after Richardson was arrested in September 2017. Assistants from four other Division I men’s basketball programs were also arrested in the FBI investigation that went to trial.

Wiretap audio collected by the FBI and played in the federal college basketball corruption trial in May 2019 included Richardson claiming Miller paid players, according to Yahoo! Sports.

After pleading guilty in court, Richardson served 90 days of prison time.

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