Key Witness in NCAA Corruption Trial Avoids Prison Time
Munish Sood, a crucial witness in the NCAA corruption cases, will avoid both prison time and probation, a federal judge ruled.
Sood, a New Jersey financial adviser, admitted to paying bribes to a variety of people involved in college athletics. Included are two former assistant coaches: Lamont Evans, of the University of South Carolina, and Emanuel “Book” Richardson, of the University of Arizona, who each pled guilty and faced three months of prison time.
Government counsel requested leniency at Sood’s hearing, with attorney Noah Solowiejczyk stating that Sood was an “important witness in both trials, a crucial witness.” Sood testified at a three-day trial and served as the role of a narrator for the jury, explaining the meaning of various cryptic communications.
U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood agreed with the government, finding that prison time was not a proper punishment for Sood. Judge Wood did fine Sood $25,000, but she stated that “Mr. Sood’s assistance to the government has been enormously helpful.” She noted that Sood’s involvement in bribery “was an aberration in an otherwise blameless life.” Sood, who made a $7 million salary when he engaged in the bribery, was less driven by financial motivations but more interested in personally connecting with popular athletes.
Sood also gave an apology “to the court and the people I’ve hurt over the past couple years. I fully accept responsibility for my actions. I have no one to blame but myself.”
As we previously reported, Sood is not the only person to avoid prison time in the NCAA bribery trial. Ex-University of Southern California assistant basketball coach Tony Bland pled guilty to taking bribes and could have faced up to a year in prison. Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos gave Bland two-year probation, taking into account Bland’s difficult upbringing and lack of a criminal record.
Others were not so lucky. In October 2018, sports agent Christian Dawkins, former shoe company basketball consultant Merl Code, and former Adidas executive James Gatto were convicted by a federal jury on conspiracy and fraud charges. Dawkins and Code were then tried and convicted in May 2019 for conspiring to bribe assistant college basketball coaches.
The only remaining question in Sood’s case is what restitution he will be ordered to pay. It is unclear whether two universities impacted by the scandal are seeking restitution from Sood. Judge Wood scheduled briefing for this issue in November and will rule later on.