ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona basketball begins process of firing assistant coach Mark Phelps

Feb 6, 2019, 8:59 PM
Arizona Assistant Coach Mark Phelps in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game agains...
Arizona Assistant Coach Mark Phelps in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game against Oregon State, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The University of Arizona men’s basketball program announced Wednesday night the team has begun to take the steps necessary to fire assistant head coach Mark Phelps.

In a statement, the school said the move is not related to the federal proceedings surrounding the NCAA in New York.

Phelps will be placed on suspension with pay in accordance with the school’s policy.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach is reporting the suspension is due to a violation regarding the academic transcripts of former Arizona commit Shareef O’Neal.

“The University of Arizona is committed to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct and our commitment to those principles is unwavering,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement. “The decision to remove Coach Phelps immediately is a direct result of that commitment. We strive to compete within the rules of the NCAA and the Pac-12 Conference, and we will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA.

“Coach Miller fully supports this decision, which we agree is in the best interests of our men’s basketball program and the University.”

Phelps is in his fourth season on Sean Miller’s staff and per the Arizona Daily Star, was also suspended for two games at the beginning of the 2017-18 season for an unspecified rules violation.

Former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson was fired in January of 2018 and pleaded guilty to a bribery charge in late January of this year in a prosecution that exposed corruption in college basketball recruiting.

Richardson, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, was among 10 people arrested in September 2017.

Richardson was accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes and using that money to entice a recruit to attend Arizona.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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