Sean Miller Denies Wrongdoing, Will Coach Arizona Amid Deandre Ayton Scandal

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 1, 2018

Arizona head coach Sean Miller in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State, Thursrday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona defeated Arizona State 77-70. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Arizona head coach Sean Miller made his first public comments Thursday in the midst of the reported payment scandal involving freshman star Deandre Ayton. 

Per ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach, FBI wiretaps intercepted a conversation between Miller and Christian Dawkins discussing a $100,000 payment to Ayton in an effort to ensure he played basketball for the Wildcats.

Miller said Schlabach's report is "completely false," per Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman 

He also denied ever discussing Ayton in a conversation with Dawkins, per CBS Sports' Seth Davis

"Compliance with NCAA rules is extremely important to us...I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program," Miller said, via Brian Hamilton of The Fieldhouse.

Per Ari Alexander of KVOA News 4, Miller will remain with Arizona and coach the team. 

Arizona president Robert Robbins also met with the media to support Miller's comments.

Per Caitlin Schmidt of the Tucson Star, Robbins told reporters the school has no reason to believe Miller violated any laws or NCAA rules. He added he believes the FBI could have wiretapped conversations with Miller. 

"I do believe that there are wiretapped conversations that the FBI may have with Coach Miller on there, along with hundreds of other coaches across the country," Robbins said.

Robbins also said he believed if the FBI had evidence against Miller, the Wildcats head coach would have been indicted. 

Robbins said Ayton has Arizona's complete support and the FBI has discovered in interviews with him that neither he nor his family received any benefits. 

"Ayton obviously is a very talented basketball player, but he's also a remarkable young man. The way he carries himself is exemplary," he said.

ESPN stated after Miller's press conference that it "stands by its reporting on Miller and the FBI investigation."

Miller didn't coach Arizona in its game against Oregon on Feb. 24 in light of Schlabach's report. 

"I believe it is in the best interest of our team that I not coach the game tonight," he said in a statement, via Sports Illustrated's Daniel Rapaport"I continue to fully support the University's efforts to fully investigate this matter and am confident that I will be vindicated. For now, my thoughts are with our team. They are a great group of young men that will support each other and continue their pursuit of winning a Pac-12 championship."

When asked why Miller didn't coach in that game, Robbins said the school didn't have all the details at the time and felt it was best for Miller to return to Tucson as Arizona conducted an investigation.

Per ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf, Arizona's board of regents has called for a special meeting at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday to discuss "legal advice and discussion regarding University of Arizona men's basketball and the multiple-year employment contract for the head men's basketball coach."

Sarah Harper, Arizona board of regents spokesperson, told Medcalf that the meeting is "not noticed for any action" regarding Miller's employment status with the university. 

Miller has been head basketball coach at Arizona since the 2009-10 season. The 49-year-old has led the program to five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, including back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight in 2014 and 2015.      

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