One week after the findings of a lengthy federal investigation shook the college basketball world, Arizona Wildcats men's basketball coach Sean Miller has broken his silence.
On Sept. 26, UA assistant basketball coach Emanuel "Book Richardson" was one of four assistant coaches to be arrested on corruption and fraud charges following a federal investigation that began in 2015. According to the court document, Richardson accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents and used money to influence at least one unnamed basketball player to commit to play for Arizona.
“I was devastated to learn last week of the allegations made against Emanuel Richardson," Miller said in his statement Tuesday. "I have expressed to both (UA president Robert) Robbins and our Athletic Director Dave Heeke that I fully support the University’s efforts to fully investigate these allegations.
"As the head basketball coach at the University of Arizona, I recognize my responsibility is not only to establish a culture of success on the basketball court and in the classroom, but as important, to promote and reinforce a culture of compliance. To the best of my ability, I have worked to demonstrate this over the past 8 years and will continue to do so as we move forward.”
Later on Tuesday afternoon, Robbins released a statement of his own in support of Miller.
"Head coach Sean Miller has not been charged with -- nor accused of -- any misconduct and he has been fully cooperative and supportive of our efforts to determine the facts in pursuit of the truth," Robbins said.
"In a message that he shared with the community earlier today, Sean expressed his own devastation at the revelations last week and acknowledged his responsibility as the head coach to promote and reinforce a culture of compliance. Based on the facts that we know at this time, we support Coach Miller and intend to provide him with all of the tools necessary to meet our goals and expectations."
Robbins also said the university has retained Steptoe & Johnson, a law firm that has an office in Phoenix, to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations against Richardson. That investigation began Monday and the university will share the results when the investigation is complete, Robbins said.
"The tremendous young men in our basketball program deserve our continued support as they work towards the start of the season, and I have complete faith that our passionate fans will continue to show them our love," Robbins said in his statement.
"As your President, it is my responsibility to do what is right, to do what is needed, and to do all that I can to ensure that every member of our community is proud to be a Wildcat. We will be a stronger University because of the actions that we have undertaken and I will continue to keep you abreast of any developments."
In a separate statement, UA athletic director Dave Heeke expressed his support for Miller and the entire basketball program.
"With basketball practice underway, I ask that you join me in supporting Sean Miller, the staff, and our student-athletes as they work towards the start of the season," Heeke said. "As President Robbins noted in his message, we will be a stronger university and department because of the actions announced today."
Hours after the allegations against Richardson came to light, UA announced it had suspended Richardson and relieved him of all coaching duties. The university also postponed its basketball media day scheduled for the following day.
Richardson was released on $50,000 bond after appearing in federal court, and he faces up to 60 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1.5 million, Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star reported.