Judge: Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller will not testify in federal trial

Apr 19, 2019, 10:00 AM | Updated: 10:02 am
Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a play call during the first half of the team's NCAA college ba...
Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a play call during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Oregon on Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller will not be required to testify in the latest federal trial over corruption involving college basketball recruiting practices, a judge ruled on Friday.

Law360’s Pete Brush reported that U.S. District Court judge Edgardo Ramos deemed it “irrelevant” that Miller and LSU coach Will Wade allegedly could have paid their players.

Prosecutors have argued against dipping into NCAA amateurism rules that may have been broken by teams like Arizona and LSU because they are not relevant to the corruption charges. The bribery charges are against former Adidas grassroots consultants Christian Dawkins and Merl Code.

Ramos did say he reserves the right to change his mind regarding a potential testimony by the coaches, according to Brush.

While Wade stepped away from the LSU program toward the end of the season, Miller remained in place at Arizona. The Wildcats went 17-15 last season, missing the NCAA Tournament, but this week completed the signing of a five-man recruiting class that’s considered by 247 Sports as the best in the nation.

Five-star prospects Nico Mannion and Josh Green are joined by four-stars Zeke Nnaji, a forward, Terry Armstrong, a guard, and three-star center Christian Koloko.

Arizona has been linked from the beginning to the FBI investigation that led to recent plea bargain agreements by former college basketball assistant coaches, including former Wildcat assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson.

During the previous trials involving corruption in college hoops recruiting, transcripts of FBI wiretaps included Dawkins’ mentions of working with the Arizona staff. Phones linked to Dawkins and Miller made contact at least 13 times over a course of several months in 2017, ESPN reported.

Miller was under the most scrutiny a year ago, when an ESPN report said a wiretap caught the UA coach discussing an impermissible payment to then-recruit Deandre Ayton, who was playing his freshman year for the Wildcats at the time. The head coach left the team for five days before returning to defend himself.

The University of Arizona, after an Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) meeting, put its support behind Miller, who said in his first statement that he never spoke to Dawkins until after Ayton committed in February 2016.

“Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false, and defamatory. I’m outraged by the media statements that have been made, and the acceptance that these statements were true,” Miller said.

Since last February, ABOR has held several closed-door meetings to discuss Miller’s status amid the trials. The schools has remained supportive of Miller.

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Judge: Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller will not testify in federal trial