NCAA ban, Book Richardson

Opinion: From NCAA Ban To Shaping Lives in the Bronx, Book Richardson Was Just A ‘Fall Guy’

Book Richardson had his life changed when an FBI raid in 2017 took him from coaching in the NCAA to now coaching prospects in the Bronx.

In the pre-dawn hours, Book Richardson begins his day haunted by memories of an FBI raid that shattered his world seven years ago. Once a revered University of Arizona assistant coach, Richardson now finds solace and purpose far from the bright lights of college basketball, shaping young lives in the gymnasiums of the Bronx, according to The Associated Press.

The 2017 federal probe aimed at eradicating corruption in college basketball ensnared Richardson and three other Black assistant coaches as fall guys, underscoring deep-seated racial disparities within the sport. Reflecting on the ordeal, Richardson lamented, “Low-hanging fruit… Who do you see all the time that’s out there? Black assistants.”

Despite the rising numbers of Black assistant coaches, opportunities for advancement remain elusive, with head coaching positions disproportionately held by white individuals. Once a high-earning coach, Richardson now earns a modest living, guiding aspiring athletes at the New York Gauchos program.

Monique Hibbert, a parent of one of Richardson’s players, attests to his unwavering dedication, recalling his candid discussion about his past. “He said, ‘Take it or leave it,’ and I said, ‘I’ll take it. Every day,'” said Hibbert, highlighting Richardson’s resilience and commitment to mentorship.

Richardson’s journey parallels the intricate web of relationships that underpin college recruiting, where shadowy dealmaking and under-the-table payments once thrived. While Richardson faced consequences for his actions, questions linger about the impact of the FBI’s crackdown and the enduring inequities within the sport.

Interestingly enough, as of April 2, Richardson has been given a second chance to coach college basketball. He’s secured a head coaching position at PDI in Urbana, Ohio.

As Richardson contemplates his future and grapples with the fallout of the investigation, his story reminds us of the systemic challenges Black coaches face in college basketball. Yet, amid adversity, Richardson finds purpose in nurturing the next generation of athletes, embodying resilience.