- Christian Petersen/Getty Images
- Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller denied any wrongdoing at a press conference on Thursday after an ESPN report tied him directly to a $100,000 payment meant to help secure a star recruit.
- Miller said the alleged conversation that ESPN claimed had been caught on an FBI wiretap never took place, and came out strong against the story while never naming the network directly.
- ESPN has stated that it is standing by its original report amidst Miller’s denial.
Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller denied any wrongdoing at a press conference on Thursday after an ESPN report alleged that he had a part in arranging a $100,000 payment in order to secure a star recruit.
“Let me be very, very clear – I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying DeAndre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona,” Miller said, in a clear rebuke of the allegations brought up by the ESPN report last week. “Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false, and defamatory.”
ESPN’s initial report claimed that the FBI had intercepted calls in which Miller spoke with Christian Dawkins, a “runner” for sports agent Andy Miller and a central figure of the FBI’s probe.
In his press conference, Miller denied any wrongdoing related to the case, and offered a sharp criticism of the ESPN and the story, although he never mentioned the network by name.
You can watch a clip of Miller’s statement below.
“There was no suchconversation”
Sean Miller denies an “innacurate, false and defamatory”report that he discussed paying DeAndre Ayton pic.twitter.com/5fnCJSV7Zy
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 1, 2018
Arizona had already been tied to the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption within college basketball when assistant coach Emanuel Richardson was arrested along with Dawkins in 2017, but Miller had said at the time that he knew nothing of Richardson’s alleged bribery.
The controversy has already cost Arizona. Shareef O’Neal, son of Shaquille O’Neal and one of the top high school recruits in the country, decommitted from Arizona when the news broke and will now be attending UCLA in the fall. Additionally, the Wildcats lost their game last Saturday against the Oregon Ducks, after Miller was pulled from the sidelines while the University worked through the allegations against the coach.
Still, the team remains ranked 19th in the country and sits atop the Pac-12 standings.
Arizona is set to play Stanford on Thursday night, with Miller back on the sidelines after his brief absence from the bench. ESPN has stated that it is standing by their original story.