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University of Arizona coach Sean Miller could still be forced to testify in federal bribery trial

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Posted at 10:39 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-25 01:39:24-04

On Thursday morning, an attorney is expected to once again ask a federal judge to require University of Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller to testify in the college basketball corruption trial in New York. The shocking turnabout came after Miller’s name was said in open court on Wednesday.

Miller was mentioned by the sports agent on trial, Christian Dawkins. Dawkins bragged to an FBI informant on video about his relationship with Miller, according to multiple reports.

Last week, a federal judge ruled Sean Miller would not be forced to testify in federal court and deemed his potential involvement irrelevant.

The judge said he would be opening to re-consider and the defense is expected to ask him after prosecutors introduced an undercover video where Dawkins mentions Miller and comments he allegedly made about recruiting star DeAndre Ayton.

Dawkins said on tape that Miller told him in 2017 he was "taking care of everything myself" when it came to the recruitment of DeAndre Ayton. The FBI informant who recorded the video testified in court that he took Dawkins’ comments to mean that Miller “had been taking care of payments for Deandre Ayton,” according to a Yahoo Sports report.

Miller has denied he has paid any player since day one, and called the report first published by ESPN “defamatory.” "I have never arranged or directed payment or any improper benefits to a recruit or prospect, or their family or representative, and I never will," said Coach Miller, at a press conference in March 2018.

Miller also said in the statement that he never spoke to agent Christian Dawkins until after Ayton committed to Arizona. The undercover video, first played in court Wednesday, seems to contradict that.

ESPN reported in early 2018 that Miller was on an FBI wiretap talking with Dawkins about a $100,000-dollar payment to Ayton. The alleged conversation has never been confirmed, nor released. Miller has repeatedly denied it.
Dawkins, who is a convicted felon, also said on video quote "Sean Miller has to know everything that goes on."

Miller has not been implicated criminally in any wrongdoing associated with former assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who pled guilty to one count of federal funds bribery in January 2019.

Miller has not said much about the ongoing legal controversy that has surrounded him and his program since his initial statement last year. He told ABC15 "No comment” repeatedly and even "Go back to Phoenix” during back-to-back press conferences this year.

Miller would likely face tough questioning if he must fly to New York and take the stand. The judge’s impending decision could have huge implications for the future of Miller and the storied U of A basketball program.

In a statement, the University of Arizona told ABC15:

“We are aware of the reports of the testimony today by a Government witness. We will continue to monitor the proceedings. As has been stated previously, the University of Arizona is committed to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct in all of our athletic programs and our commitment to those principles is unwavering.”

The Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the public universities told ABC15 they are continuing to follow the situation surrounding the U of A basketball program.

A spokesperson also wrote via email, “The board has publicly stated its concern regarding allegations against the University of Arizona Men’s Basketball and has also voiced their confidence in UA President Robbins to uphold UA’s commitment to its core values and the UA family.”