Arizona President, Athletic Director confirm Sean Miller will remain head men's basketball coach
Thursday afternoon, University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke released a joint statement affirming that Sean Miller will remain head men's basketball coach. The decision comes following an ESPN report last Friday that alleged Miller was recorded discussing a $100,000 payment to ensure Deandre Ayton would become a Wildcat.
Robbins and Heeke's statement reads in full:
"We have decided Sean Miller will remain the University of Arizona's men's basketball coach.
"Media reports last Friday alleged that Coach Miller was caught on a wiretap discussing a payment with a representative of a sports agency regarding one of our student-athletes. Since those reports broke, we have sought to learn everything that we can from Coach Miller about the allegations. As Coach Miller's employer, we acted to investigate these reports.
"Earlier this week, we met with Coach Miller at length and asked him direct and pointed questions. He was eager to speak with us and answered every question we asked. At this time we have no reason to believe that Coach Miller violated NCAA rules or any laws regarding the allegation reported in the media. Additionally, he had a record of compliance with NCAA rules, and he has been cooperative in the process.
"While some might be tempted to rush to judgment when there is intense public pressure, due process is the bedrock of fair treatment and acting with integrity. With that in mind, we will continue to pursue every avenue of inquiry available to us during an active federal investigation to full understand the facts. We recognize that investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to be respectful and cooperative through its conclusion. Steptoe & Johnson continues its investigation into our athletics compliance, and we will carefully review and act on its conclusions. We aniticipate this report will be thorough and based on facts.
"We want to thank our student-athletes for the strength they have exhibited during this challenging situation. We are confident that they will continue to respond with commitment, integrity and excellence. Deandre Ayton, who has been subject to false, public reports that impugned his reputation, has our full support. We ask that the Wildcat Family rally behind these young men and our coaching staff tonight and throughout the rest of our season."
Earlier Thursday, Miller addressed the media for the first time this week, refuting the claims against him and stating that he was excited to coach his team as the Wildcats try to win a Pac-12 regular-season title.
Arizona's decisive statement capped a confusing week.
ESPN's report was published on ESPN.com a week ago Friday. Miller missed the Wildcats' next game against Oregon, on Saturday, while Ayton played. Just before that game, a lawyer representing the Ayton family released a statement saying his clients were "outraged and disgusted" by the allegations against the Arizona freshman. In the statement, the attorney says Ayton told the FBI last year, "that he never discussed or solicited payments from the University of Arizona, or any other university, or any shoe company or anyone on behalf of either -- period. This includes basketball and anything else."
The agent who's reported to have talked to Miller, Christian Dawkins, is at the center of a much larger federal investigation. Also last Friday, Yahoo! Sports released a report that implicated current and former student-athletes from USC, Utah and Washington who allegedly accepted payments from sports agents in violation of NCAA rules. USC's Chimezie Metu, the only healthy, current student-athlete named in the report, was cleared to play on Saturday by USC.