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Report: UA likely to make decision on Sean Miller soon; validity of ESPN report questioned

Posted at 12:08 PM, Feb 27, 2018

Arizona Wildcats men's basketball coach Sean Miller and his attorneys met with administrators at The University of Arizona on Monday, and Miller's future at UA could be determined soon, according to a report by 247Sports Tuesday.

Per Evan Daniels and Josh Gershon at 247Sports, "Miller’s fate remains up in the air after continued speculation of the legitimacy of an ESPN report last week" and UA "is expected to make a decision on his future in Tucson sooner rather than later."

On Friday, ESPN's Mark Schlabach reported FBI wiretaps revealedMiller discussing a payment to prized recruit Deandre Ayton with Christian Dawkins, a runner for sports agent Andy Miller. ESPN later reported on SportsCenter that the call took place in 2017.

In a report Monday, 247Sports said ESPN's timeline of events "doesn't add up," after ESPN corrected the originally reported date of the wiretapped conversation, and then issued a correction to that correction.

On Sunday, ESPN said the call actually took place in the spring of 2016, not in 2017. Another correction soon followed, with ESPN simply reporting that "the call in question was made in 2016" without noting when in 2016 the call was made. The corrections were the first in two months posted on ESPN's Correctionspage, and the first of the 2018 calendar year.

From 247Sports:

Dawkins (who had his phone tapped by the FBI) and Miller had calls intercepted between the timeframe of June 19 of 2017, through Sept. 25. Sources say that the U.S. Attorney's office notified multiple parties who had conversations with Dawkins that their phone calls had been recorded specifically during the dates of June 19, 2017 and Sept. 25, 2017.

Ayton verbally committed to Arizona in September of 2016 and signed his letter of intent to play at UA in November of 2016. Per 247Sports, Ayton arrived on UA campus on June 10, 2017 and began orientation at UA on June 19, 2017.

Per 247Sports, "sources with knowledge of the content of the audio tapes – which remain under a federal seal – believe they would exonerate the coach of ESPN’s allegations." ESPN is standing by its timeline of events. 

In an exclusive report Friday, Yahoo Sports revealed federal documents that listed names of current and former college basketball players who allegedly committed a number of NCAA violations. In an interview with ESPN 680 in Louisville on Tuesday, Pat Forde, who contributed to the Yahoo Sports report, said "there was nothing in the documents we reviewed that implicated Sean Miller."

Former UA assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson was one of four assistant coaches who allegedly accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents, according to a report released in September. Richardson was arrested after allegedly accepting $20,000 in bribes and used money to influence at least one basketball player to commit to play for Arizona. In early October, Miller said he was "devastated" to learn of Richardson's actions.

"I think there's a lot of dispute about (Friday's) ESPN report, I will say that. There's been a considerable amount of discussion of that and disagreement over it," Forde said.

"Was he involved or not? I don't know. We're going to find out. But from an NCAA standpoint, as (former Louisville coach) Rick Pitino can tell you, it doesn't matter. If your assistants are involved, you by de facto responsibility are involved."

Miller did not coach in Arizona's game at Oregon on Saturday night, but Ayton was allowed to play. In a statement Sunday, the attorney conducting UA's internal investigation in an ongoing FBI probe said claims against Ayton are "false and unfounded," and he should remain eligible to play for UA.

The Arizona Daily Star reported Miller missed the Wildcats' practice Monday. UA canceled Miller's weekly radio show scheduled for Monday night, and Miller did not hold his regular Monday press conference with the media.

The Arizona Board of Regents held an emergency session Saturday to discuss the future of the men's basketball team.

The Wildcats are scheduled to play two more regular-season games -- at home vs. Stanford on Thursday and Cal on Saturday -- before heading to Las Vegas for next week's Pac-12 Tournament.