Shawn Moran

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Arizona’s Miller to remain coach, calls report ‘inaccurate, false and defamatory’

TUCSON – Insisting he has “never knowingly violated NCAA rules,” Arizona coach Sean Miller called a report that he discussed a $100,000 payment to a player inaccurate and said he will remain the coach of the Wildcats.

“Let me be very very clear: I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona,” he said to gathered media at McKale Center. “In fact, I never even met or spoke to Christian Dawkins until after Deandre (Ayton) publicly announced he was coming to our school. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory.”

The news conference came less than three hours before the Arizona Board of Regents was set to meet to discuss Miller’s contract.

It has been six days since the ESPN report about Miller’s FBI wiretapped conversation with ASM Sports agency runner Christian Dawkins. On that phone call, the report alleged Miller and Dawkins discussed a $100,000 payment to land star recruit Ayton. This came just months after the FBI arrested Miller’s former assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson on bribery charges.

“While I have done nothing wrong, I am in charge of the men’s basketball team,” Miller said. “I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while being head coach of this great program.”

Following Richardson’s arrest in late September, Miller stated that “as the head basketball coach at the University of Arizona, I recognize my responsibility is not only to establish a culture of success on the basketball court and in the classroom, but as important, to promote and reinforce a culture of compliance.”

Five months after those comments, Miller had to defend himself in front of many media members curious about his future at the university. He stated that he had never met or spoken to Dawkins and that he has never and will never pay a player to attend the University of Arizona.

“These statements have damaged me, my family, the university, Deandre Ayton and his wonderful family,” Miller said.

Miller said that he could not stay silent and that he looks forward to winning a regular-season Pac-12 title and that he will coach the team Thursday night when it takes on the Stanford Cardinal in Tucson.