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Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller declines to comment on Adidas probe

Arizona head coach Sean Miller makes his way to a stage during the Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Arizona head coach Sean Miller told members of the media to refer to his statements made on March 1 when asked about the program and former center Deandre Ayton being mentioned in testimony involving an Adidas consultant offering to pay top-level recruits this week.

Miller declined to say more at least six times during Pac-12 Media Day on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola testified that he paid money to the families of several high-level high school recruits, including Ayton. On Thursday, Gassnola said the payment, worth $15,000, was given to a family friend of Ayton’s while the center was a junior in high school.

That was the first time Ayton was named in the trial.

However, he had been named in a Feb. 23 report from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach that said Arizona head coach Sean Miller was allegedly heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to ensure a commitment from Ayton.

Miller was allegedly speaking to Christian Dawkins, who was linked to a sports agency that has been implicated in the scandal that began with 10 arrests.

Miller denied all allegations in his statement. Ayton denied as well and did not miss a college game.

Paul Kelly, hired as an outside counsel in October, released a statement at the time that said Ayton “consistently maintained that neither he nor and member of his family, nor any representative thereof, received any money or extra benefit to influence his decision to attend the University of Arizona.”

With Ayton’s name and Oregon mentioned separately in court over the past two weeks, Pac-12 commissioner Larry David said he doesn’t believe it’s a conference-wide issue.

“I’ve got no reason to believe that there’s a systemic problem,” he said. “Allegations have been made about a lot of schools nationally.”

He also urged the NBA and NBA Players Association to end the one-and-done rule, saying it would “align with the four buckets” of recommendations that the NCAA made: minimizing harmful outside influences, providing flexibility for going pro and getting a degree, providing more independent investigations and strengthening the enforcement system with harsher penalties.

Scott said the Pac-12 is monitoring the investigation.

“There are allegations, and there’s a process to prove or disprove them,” he said. “I think we’ll certainly hold any judgment until the process goes through, and we see what comes of it.”

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