ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Report: University of Arizona charged with 9 allegations of misconduct

Oct 25, 2020, 12:36 PM
Arizona head coach Sean Miller speaks during the Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day in San Fr...
Arizona head coach Sean Miller speaks during the Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
(AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

The notice of allegations (NOA) that the University of Arizona received from the NCAA’s enforcement staff on Friday allegedly includes nine allegations of misconduct, five of which are Level 1, the most serious category, according to The Athletic’s Seth Davis and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde.

Level 1 charges include “a lack of institutional control and failure to monitor by the university; a lack of head coach control by men’s basketball coach Sean Miller; and a lack of head coach control by Augie Busch, the women’s swimming and diving coach,” Davis wrote.

For the basketball program, Level 1 violations could result in postseason bans or other punishments.

Arizona announced it received the notice of allegations on Friday but gave no details about what was found.

Davis reported that former assistant coaches Book Richardson and Mark Phelps refusing to speak with the NCAA is listed in the NOA as an aggravating factor, as is Arizona declining to supply a report produced by a law firm it hired to conduct a private investigation after Richardson was arrested.

The NCAA said Arizona “compromised the integrity of the investigation and failed to cooperate.”

Wiretap audio collected by the FBI and played in the federal college basketball corruption trial on May 1 included Richardson claiming Miller paid players, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Video evidence presented in the trial included an FBI recording of former runner Christian Dawkins claiming that he and Miller discussed potential payments to Deandre Ayton, who was then a recruit. Witness Marty Blazer also testified that Dawkins told him Miller admitted to paying players.

Scattered among seven wiretap audio recordings played, there were multiple instances where Richardson suggested to Dawkins that Miller had paid or promised to pay high school recruits. One mention recorded in June 2017 involves Richardson claiming Miller agreed to pay or had paid $10,000 to eventual No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Ayton.

The news followed a Feb. 23, 2018, report from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach that alleged Miller was heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a payment of $100,000 to ensure a commitment from Ayton.

Immediately after the ESPN report broke a year ago, Miller stepped away from the Wildcats and did not coach them in a 98-93 loss to Oregon, despite 28 points from Ayton, who was cleared to play.

Miller later denied that he had broken NCAA recruiting rules and looked forward to continue leading the team. Those comments came in a press conference six days after the ESPN report.

“There was no such conversation,” Miller said of an alleged phone discussion with Dawkins. “These statements have damaged me, my family, the university, Deandre Ayton and his entire family.”

Miller read a prepared statement without taking questions at his press conference.

“I cannot remain silent in light of media reports,” he said, adding the report by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach was “inaccurate and completely false.”

Shortly thereafter on that same day, the Arizona Board of Regents, Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke all pledged their support of Miller following a meeting. The group also worked in a clause in Miller’s contract that would penalize him $1 million for any serious recruiting violations that were found.

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Report: University of Arizona charged with 9 allegations of misconduct