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Arizona basketball imposes 1-year postseason ban amid investigation

Arizona head coach Sean Miller reacts to a play against Colorado during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Arizona men’s basketball team announced Tuesday it has imposed a postseason ban on its program as the NCAA process regarding alleged violations of misconduct plays out.

The university received the NCAA’s notice of allegations (NOA) in October.

The notice of allegations the Wildcats received from the NCAA’s enforcement staff 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.

The school on Tuesday said its self-ban was a “proactive measure” and cast the blame on former staff members.

The ban will keep Arizona from participating in the Pac-12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

“The decision is an acknowledgement that the NCAA’s investigation revealed that certain former members of the MBB staff displayed serious lapses in judgment and a departure from the University’s expectation of honest and ethical behavior,” the school said in its statement.

“It is also in accord with the penalty guidelines of the NCAA for the type of violations involved. This decision also reinforces the institution’s commitment to accountability and integrity as well as serving the best long-term interests of the University and the Men’s Basketball program.”

The Wildcats have 18 games left on the Pac-12 schedule, and the season will come to an end March 6 at home against Arizona State.

The NCAA’s Independent Accountability Review Process is currently looking at Arizona’s alleged infractions and has yet to judge on a resolution to the investigation. It could potentially add penalties on top of the postseason ban.

Wildcats head coach Sean Miller said he understands and fully supports the school’s decision to punish itself.

“Our team will remain united and aggressively compete to win a Pac-12 championship,” his statement added.

Arizona vice president and director of athletics Dave Heeke called the decision “extremely difficult.”

“We will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA enforcement process and continue to support the hard-working young men in our Men’s Basketball program,” he added in a statement.

Level 1 charges received by the school 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 in October.

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

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 on fraud charges in a sting that involved other college basketball programs and their recruiting practices.

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.


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