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Arizona’s Sean Miller denies allegations of recruiting violations

Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller denied Thursday that he had broken NCAA recruiting rules and looked forward to continue leading the team.

Miller’s comments in a press conference came six days after an ESPN report alleged that he was heard on an FBI wiretap about an impermissible benefit involving freshman Deandre Ayton.

“There was no such conversation,” Miller said of an alleged phone discussion with Christian Dawkins, a runner for a sports agency who was arrested in the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption. “These statements have damaged me, my family, the university, Deandre Ayton and his entire family.”

Miller read a prepared statement without taking questions at his press conference.

“I cannot remain silent in light of media reports,” he said, adding the report by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach was “inaccurate and completely false.”

Miller said he had never spoken to Dawkins until after Ayton committed to join Arizona.

“Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false, and defamatory. I’m outraged by the media statements that have been made, and the acceptance that these statements were true,” Miller said.

Following Miller’s press conference, ESPN said it “stands by its reporting on Miller and the FBI investigation.”

The Wildcats host Stanford Thursday and Cal on Saturday with one win to secure a regular season Pac-12 Championship. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported that Miller will be on the sidelines Thursday.

Miller said he has worked to run a clean program since stepping onto campus at Arizona.

“I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules as serving as head coach,” he said. “I never have and I never will.”

The coach said he has only once been propositioned to be involved in an illegal payment to acquire a prospect. Miller said he declined the offer and that player never came to Arizona.

The statement comes after a report from ESPN’s Schlabach last Friday that revealed Miller was allegedly heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 to ensure a commitment from now-freshman Ayton.

Miller allegedly was heard on the wiretap speaking with Dawkins, who was linked to a sports agency that has been implicated in the college basketball scandal that began with 10 arrests. Dawkins and former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson were among those arrested late last year on charges of fraud and bribery stemming from the recruitment of high school players.

A separate report by Yahoo! Sports also listed the Arizona program as a topic of email discussion in the recruitment of prospect Brian Bowen, whose eventual landing spot, Louisville, fired coach Rick Pitino for recruiting malpractice.

After the initial report broke Friday, Miller stepped away from the Wildcats. Arizona fell to the Oregon Ducks in overtime, 98-93, despite 28 points from Ayton, who was cleared to play.

Miller, his lawyers and school administrators reportedly began meeting on Monday to find a resolution.

The Arizona Board of regents was set to meet about Miller’s contract on Thursday afternoon.