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Arizona potentially facing ‘significant sanctions and penalties’

Assistant coach Emanuel Richardson instructs freshman guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright #0 of the Arizona Wildcats in their game against the Cal State Northridge Matadors at McKale Center on November 16, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Elizabeth Stowe/J and L Photography/Getty Images )

The University of Arizona’s general counsel says in a victim impact statement filed in federal court that the school is “facing the prospect of potentially significant sanctions and penalties from the NCAA flowing from the unlawful actions involved in this case,” according to Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star.

The statements from Laura Todd Johnson, the school’s general counsel, come ahead of former men’s basketball assistant coach Book Richardson’s sentencing in the federal trial involving college basketball corruption on Thursday.

On wiretap audio recordings that were played during the trial, Richardson suggested that head coach Sean Miller had paid or promised to pay high school recruits, according to Yahoo! Sports. One mention recorded in June 2017 involves Richardson claiming Miller agreed to pay or had paid $10,000 a month to eventual No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Deandre Ayton, who is now a member of the Phoenix Suns.

Richardson was promptly dismissed from the team in September 2017 when he was arrested by the FBI before the string of trials began, but links to the scandal soon found Miller.

In early 2018, ESPN first reported that wiretaps included Miller discussing payments with Dawkins. While prior federal trials involving the college basketball scandal confirmed the two spoke, there has yet to be audio evidence used in a trial of Miller speaking to Dawkins about such payments.

ESPN’s initial report said FBI wiretaps included conversations between Dawkins and Miller about a $100,000 sum to ensure Ayton landed with the Wildcats. On March 1, 2018, following that report, Miller missed a road game as the school looked into the allegations. The head coach returned and read a prepared statement refuting ESPN’s story.

“I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program. I have never paid a recruit or prospect or their family or representative to come to Arizona. I never have and I never will,” Miller said.

“Let me be very very clear: I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona. In fact, I never even met or spoke to Christian Dawkins until after Deandre publicly announced he was coming to our school. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory.”