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Sean Miller: Allegations are false, will continue to coach UA men's basketball team

Arizona Wildcats men's basketball coach Sean Miller said ESPN's reports are false and he intends to continue coaching...

Posted: Mar. 2, 2018 1:55 AM
Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 1:55 AM

Arizona Wildcats men's basketball coach Sean Miller said ESPN's reports are false and he intends to continue coaching at UA, Miller said in a statement Thursday.

According to an ESPN report Friday, Miller was heard via an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to UA freshman and potential No. 1 NBA Draft pick Deandre Ayton. Miller reportedly told his contact, former sports agent Christian Dawkins, that he should deal directly with former UA assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson about money-related matters.

Miller did not coach in Saturday night's game at Oregon, but Ayton did play in that game.

"While I have done nothing wrong, I am responsible for our men's basketball program, and I am sickened that we are in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Contrary to what has been written this past week, we do our best to run a clean program at The University of Arizona. I have done that since the first day I stepped foot on this campus. Compliance with NCAA rules is extremely important to us, and we work hard to create, maintain and monitor a culture of compliance within our program," Miller said in his statement.

"I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program. I have never paid a recruit or prospect, or their family or representative, to come to Arizona. I never have, and I never will. I have never arranged or directed payment or any improper benefits to a recruit or prospect, or their family or representative, and I never will.

"These statements have damaged me, my family, the university, Deandre Ayton, and his incredible family. The only attempted corrections by the original source of the media statements are still inaccurate and completely false.

"I have been completely open and transparent, and I look forward to coaching this outstanding team as we seek to capture a Pac-12 regular-season championship this week. I now intend to turn my focus to basketball, and our players and this team."

Richardson was one of four NCAA assistant basketball coaches arrested in September following a lengthy FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. In early October, Miller said he was "devastated" to learn of Richardson's dealings, and UA eventually fired Richardson.

In a statement Saturday afternoon, Miller said he is "confident" he will be "vindicated" of any wrongdoing. Ayton's attorney, as well as the attorney UA hired to conduct its internal investigation into the FBI probe, denied ESPN's report.

The Arizona Board of Regents is scheduled to hold a private meeting in Phoenix on Thursday to discuss the UA men's basketball program.

"Speaking for myself, as a former editor and prosecutor, the ESPN story published regarding the continuing investigation may not have been worthy of publication and in any case was deficient in its sourcing and context as the basis for immediate decision. Efforts have been under way since to address that deficiency and proceed accordingly," ABOR member Jay Heiler told Phoenix Business Journal on Wednesday.

The 49-year-old Miller was hired as UA's head coach before the 2009-10 season, replacing longtime Wildcat head coach Lute Olson. He led the Wildcats to four Pac-12 championships and three Elite Eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. He was a three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

Prior to his time at UA, Miller was the head coach at Xavier University. He played college basketball at The University of Pittsburgh.

Arizona is currently in first place in the Pac-12 conference. It is scheduled to host Stanford on Thursday night and Cal on Saturday to conclude regular-season play. UA will head to Las Vegas next week to compete in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Some UA players reacted to Miller's press conference Thursday.

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