ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Report: FBI wiretaps caught Sean Miller discussing payments to Ayton

Feb 23, 2018, 8:29 PM | Updated: 10:49 pm

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According to a report by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller had conversations with a key figure in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption that revealed a discussion of paying $100,000 to ensure a commitment from freshman Deandre Ayton.

The wiretaps intercepted conversations on the phone between Miller and Christian Dawkins, a runner working for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller.

According to Schlabach’s sources, the multiple conversations included Dawkins asking Sean Miller if he should facilitate a finalized agreement through then-assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson. Per the report, “Miller told Dawkins he should deal directly with him when it came to money.”

In a report from Yahoo! Sports, emails between Dawkins and Andy Miller reveal how programs such as Arizona, Michigan State and Indiana attempt to go about recruiting.

The documents from Yahoo! Sports’ report include Dawkins checking in with six ASM clients, including the Memphis Grizzlies’ Jarrell Martin. He spoke with or planned meetings with two of the other assistants that were arrested by the FBI, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans and USC’s Tony Bland.

Richardson was one of four college assistants arrested — 10 total individuals, including Dawkins — by the FBI in late September. He was suspended and relieved of all duties after being charged with fraud and corruption.

A statement from Arizona athletics at the time said they became aware of Richardson’s situation that morning and they would fully cooperate with authorities.

Richardson had been with the program since 2009. His chief responsibility was recruiting.

Ayton has been one of the best players in the country. The potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft is averaging 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds a game for the Wildcats.

The news comes less than 48 hours after star guard Allonzo Trier was ruled ineligible for the second time in two years because of testing positive for a banned substance.

It hits the athletic department in a time of controversy.

The Wildcats fired head football coach Rich Rodriguez at the beginning of January following a harassment scandal and the school has been named in claims related to Title IX violations involving both Rodriguez and former running back Orlando Bradford’s assault case.

Now, Arizona has been one of the most high-profile schools in the college basketball investigation that has revealed an inside look at the complex operations between shoe companies, professional sports agents and college athletics.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Friday the allegations “if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America.”

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