Report: NCAA inquiry into Arizona Wildcats men's basketball is underway

Sean Miller might be asked to appear at a trial
Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 04, 2019

A formal NCAA inquiry into Arizona Wildcats men's basketball stemming from a lengthy FBI investigation into NCAA college hoops is underway, Yahoo Sports reported Monday.

Per Yahoo Sports:

"While Arizona has the country's No. 1 recruiting class for next season, there’s a series of looming issues both with the federal probe and the ongoing NCAA investigation into the school that complicate (head coach Sean) Miller’s future there. The issues begin with the upcoming trial of Christian Dawkins, the former agency employee who claimed deep ties to the Arizona program. There’s also potential NCAA fallout from the recent felony plea in federal court by former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, which amplifies the question of how the NCAA will handle Miller’s responsibility for the actions in his program."

Yahoo Sports added Miller will likely be subpoenaed to appear at Dawkins' upcoming trial in April. Depending on what the NCAA finds in its inquiry, UA men's basketball could face a number of sanctions, including a postseason ban, especially considering the NCAA recently enacted stronger policies against rule breaking. One source told Yahoo Sports that Miller's future at Arizona could be in jeopardy, depending on the outcome of the investigation.

Richardson pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge last month following an FBI investigation that exposed corruption in college basketball recruiting. The plea came two weeks after Richardson reportedly reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

The Arizona Board of Regents has held several special meetings in recent months to discuss and obtain legal advice about the future of UA men's basketball. Its most recent meeting took place Jan. 24 in Tempe.

ABOR, along with UA president Robert Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke, met in November following the conclusion of a trial in which three men were convicted of fraud for channeling secret payments to the families of top recruits. During that trial, UA was accused by multiple witnesses of offering, or preparing to offer, money for various recruits.

Richardson was one of four NCAA basketball coaches arrested and charged with felony fraud and bribery in 2017 following the FBI's lengthy investigation. No charges were brought against Miller, but in February, Schlabach reported FBI wiretaps caught Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to prized recruit and current Suns rookie Deandre Ayton. Miller made a statement calling the report false and defamatory, and multiple media outlets have questioned the timeline of Schlabach's report.

Miller has received the backing of Robbins and Heeke, and he is now in his 10th season as UA's head men's basketball coach. In April, Miller's contract was amended so that he would forfeit $1 million if he is charged for a crime related to his employment or is found guilty of committing a Level 1 NCAA violation.

"I have no idea what the future will bring, but most important, we are committed to running a program with the highest integrity, that follows not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law," ABOR chairman Ron Shoopman told the Arizona Daily Star's Bruce Pascoe after the November meeting. "As a board, we are concerned with running a high-integrity program and we will take action on fact, not just because somebody said something. This is a national situation, and we're working through it together."