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Arizona coach Sean Miller denies candidacy for Pittsburgh job opening

Arizona coach Sean Miller kneels by the bench during the first half of a first-round game against Buffalo in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller denied he is a candidate for the Pittsburgh Panthers’ job opening after multiple reports indicated he had shown interest in the opportunity.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy,” Miller said in a statement tweeted by the basketball team’s Twitter account. “I wish them well in their search for a new coach.”

Sources of Pittsburgh Sports Now reported Tuesday that “intermediates have reached out to Pitt on Miller’s behalf to express his interest in the job.” Then, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Craig Meyer reported Wednesday that Miller and Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke have discussed the position.

The Panthers fired coach Kevin Stallings after Pittsburgh went 0-18 in ACC play in 2017-18. He went 8-25 this year and 24-42 overall in his two-year run as Panthers coach.

Miller, who starred as a Panthers point guard from 1987-92, was a fan-favorite option to return to his alma mater before Stallings’ hiring in 2016 but squashed a report he was interested via his Twitter account. He has since deactivated that account.

Miller remains in charge of the Wildcats (27-8), who as a No. 4 seed bowed out of the NCAA Tournament with a 89-68 loss to No. 13 seed Buffalo in the first round of the Big Dance.

Despite winning the Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament, Arizona survived a tumultuous season that saw an ESPN report claim Miller was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a potential impermissible benefit involving the recruitment of center Deandre Ayton.

The coach allegedly discussed a $100,000 payment to earn Ayton’s commitment in an alleged phone discussion with a runner for a sports agency, Christian Dawkins, who was arrested in the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption.

Miller denied that claim after stepping away from the team for five days, and the Arizona athletic department, president and the Arizona Board of Regents put their support behind the coach.

Yet, the Wildcats had struggled on the recruiting front before that point and still have the FBI investigation hanging over the program.

Last September, the team parted ways and ultimately fired Miller’s assistant, Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who was arrested along with 10 others — Dawkins included — in the FBI’s investigation.

Arizona currently has no players committed to the 2018 recruiting class and just six players currently expected to be on the team after Ayton, Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier leave for the NBA early. The Wildcats will also lose seniors Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Ristic.

They also lost lead assistant coach Lorenzo Romar, who took the head coaching opening at Pepperdine.