Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller held a press conference Thursday afternoon, speaking for the first time publicly since the latest round of allegations against him in the FBI college basketball probe.
Late last week, ESPN reported Miller was recorded discussing a $100,000 payment to bring freshman Deandre Ayton to Arizona. On Thursday, Miller directly denied these claims.
Sean Miller says he’s “done anything wrong and is sickened his program in the spotlight, and "has never arranged or directed improper payment to a recruit their family or any representative."— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) March 1, 2018
Sean Miller: "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 a representative.— Anne Ryman (@anneryman) March 1, 2018
Sean Miller says he never spoke to Christian Dawkins about paying Deandre Ayton. "Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory... There was no such conversation."— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) March 1, 2018
He will remain as Arizona’s head coach moving forward.
The allegations Miller is facing involve Christian Dawkins, a former associate of once-powerful NBA agent Andy Miller, and a central figure in the FBI’s probe of corruption in college basketball. Here’s more from ESPN’s report:
According to people with knowledge of the FBI investigation, Miller and Dawkins, a runner working for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller, had multiple conversations about Ayton. When Dawkins asked Miller if he should work with assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson to finalize their agreement, Miller told Dawkins he should deal directly with him when it came to money, the sources said.
Miller did not coach the Wildcats’ during their game against Oregon last Saturday, a 98-93 loss. Here’s a look at some of his full statement, courtesy of Arizona Desert Swarm:
“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 very best to run a clean program at the University of Arizona. I have done that since the first day I stepped 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. I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program.
“I have never paid a recruit or a 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.
“I also understand that there is an ongoing federal investigation. And because of this, I cannot do anything that might compromise the integrity of this investigation. However, on this point, I cannot remain silent in light of media reports that have impugned the reputation of me, the University, and sullied the name of a tremendous young man, Deandre Ayton.
I also want you to know that the one time that someone suggested to me paying a player to come to the University of Arizona, I did not agree to it. It never happened and that player did not come to the University of Arizona.
“Out of respect for this ongoing investigation, the privacy of the student-athlete and his family, I’m not going to share further details concerning this matter. I appreciate more than anyone can realize, Dr. Robbins and the University carefully considering this matter and acting upon facts. 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. I once again want to express my thanks to all of those who have supported me and this now completes my statement on this matter.”
Arizona is set to take on Stanford Thursday evening at 10 p.m. ET.