Sean Miller Fired as Arizona Head Coach After 12 Seasons

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 7, 2021

Arizona head coach Sean Miller questions a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson)
AP Photo/Andy Nelson

Sean Miller's time as the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team is over.

On Wednesday, the school announced Miller would be leaving the program, though his contract would still be honored.

Arizona Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke addressed the matter in a statement:

"We appreciate Sean's commitment to our basketball program and to the university. After taking the many factors involved into account, we simply believe that we need a fresh start and now is the time. I want to thank Sean, Amy and their sons for their service to the university and wish them the very best in the future."

Jeff Goodman of Stadium previously reported the Pac-12 school parted ways with Miller with one year remaining on his contract. Goodman noted the administration "stuck by" the coach during the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball, but Miller was charged with failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance by the NCAA in March.

Arizona hired Miller prior to the 2009-10 season after he coached five seasons for the Xavier Musketeers.

In 12 years as Arizona's coach, Miller went 302-109 with five Pac-12 regular-season titles, three Pac-12 tournament titles and seven NCAA tournament appearances. The Wildcats advanced to five Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights in that span, although they never got over the hump to reach the Final Four.

However, they missed the Big Dance in 2019 and again this season, although the latter was because of a self-imposed postseason ban in response to the NCAA's notice of allegations.

As part of the FBI's probe into college basketball recruiting and corruption, Emanuel "Book" Richardson, who was previously on the Wildcats' staff, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes as part of a scheme to convince Arizona players to eventually sign with sports agent Christian Dawkins.

Mark Schlabach of ESPN reported in 2018 that the FBI intercepted conversations between Dawkins and Miller that featured discussions about paying $100,000 to make sure Deandre Ayton joined Arizona.

Ayton eventually played for the Wildcats and was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft.

Miller has denied paying for prospects to join his program.

The program eventually received three Level 1 violations from the NCAA related to the federal investigation, as well as another for the athletics department as a whole for lack of institutional control.

As for the now vacant position, Goodman reported Pacific head coach Damon Stoudamire, Los Angeles Lakers assistant Miles Simon, Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner and Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd are potential candidates. Stoudamire, Simon and Pastner are former Arizona players who became Wildcats assistant coaches.

Arizona checks in at No. 23 in the 247Sports' composite rankings for 2021 recruiting classes.


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