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ESPN’s Bilas: ‘I trust Mark Schlabach’s report’ on Arizona’s Sean Miller

Arizona NCAA college basketball coach Sean Miller speaks at a press conference in Tucson, Ariz., Thursday, March 1, 2018. Miller vehemently shot down a report claiming he discussed a six-figure payment to a top recruit and said he looks forward to continuing to coach the team. (Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

LISTEN: Jay Bilas, ESPN Basketball Analyst

With Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller shooting down a Feb. 23 ESPN report from Mark Schlabach that alleged he was heard on an FBI wiretap about an impermissible benefit involving freshman Deandre Ayton, the question became, “Which side is telling the truth?”

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas is on the side of Schlabach.

“I trust the reporting,” he said Thursday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo. “There were multiple sources in this report, and I trust the reporting.”

When asked if he trusts the specific reporting of Miller allegedly discussing a payment to Ayton on the FBI wiretaps, Bilas didn’t hesitate.

“I trust Mark Schlabach’s report in this entirety, yes,” he said.

Schlabach appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter Thursday and said he stood by his reporting, even after Miller’s press conference.

“Based on my reporting this weekend, I have no reason to believe that anything in that article is inaccurate,” he said.

“The telephone conversations that were recorded by FBI wiretaps and the documents and financial records that were seized by the FBI during a two-year investigation remain under federal seal. If and when that seal is removed, we’ll find out what the FBI has.”

Miller denied any wrongdoing Thursday and received the support of Arizona president Robert Robbins, who said after meeting with the Arizona Board of Regents that Miller will remain as the team’s head coach.

“We have no reason to believe that Coach Miller violated NCAA rules or any laws regarding the allegation reported in the media,” Robbins said after the meeting Thursday.

There have been questions regarding the timeline of Schlabach’s report, as both 247 Sports and Sports Illustrated have reported there is doubt regarding how the events match up.

Bilas has his own doubts as to why Miller did not make similar statements before last Saturday’s game against Oregon, a game Miller did not coach or spend time with the team.

“My first question as soon as the press conference was over, I’ve been a trial lawyer for 26 years, and one of the things I thought first was why didn’t he say this on Saturday,” he said.

“There was nothing that was said now that compromises the investigation that couldn’t have been said when the report first came out.”

According to Robbins, the decision for Miller to not coach against the Ducks was based on a discussion between himself, athletic director Dave Heeke and Miller.

“Because we did not have the details — and as you can imagine, the shock of this report coming out — we thought it was in the best interest of the university, our student-athletes and Coach Miller for him to return to Tucson so we could begin what has turned out to be now a five-day intensive investigation and discussion of the facts in this matter,” Robbins said.

Miller is expected to be coaching the team at 8 p.m. on Thursday when they take on Stanford.

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