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Sean Miller Says It Was an 'Honor' to Be Arizona's Head Coach After Firing

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 9, 2021

John McCoy/Getty Images

Former Arizona men's basketball head coach Sean Miller, who was relieved of his duties on Wednesday, released a statement Thursday noting that "it was an honor" to lead the program, which he did for 12 seasons.

Miller coached Arizona from 2009-21. The Wildcats made seven NCAA tournaments, reaching the Elite Eight three times.

The program had fallen on hard times over the past four years, however.

Arizona won the Pac-12 regular-season title and tournament in 2018 but fell to No. 13 seed Buffalo in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats then missed March Madness entirely in 2019 following a 17-15 season.

They were likely headed back to the tournament in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the remainder of the season during Championship Week.

However, Arizona did not make the 2021 tournament, and that was because the Wildcats gave themselves a self-imposed ban. ESPN's Jeff Borzello explained why on Dec. 29.

"The decision comes as a result of the NCAA investigation stemming from the 2017 federal investigation into corruption in college basketball and college basketball recruiting. ESPN and The Athletic reported in October that Arizona had been hit with nine NCAA violations, including five Level I allegations. The Athletic reported that Arizona was charged with lack of institutional control and failure to monitor, and head coach Sean Miller was charged with lack of head coach control."

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Arizona may have had trouble making the tournament even without the decision as it finished just fifth in the Pac-12 with an 11-9 record.

For context, fourth-place UCLA, which lost in the quarterfinals, barely snuck into the tournament field as an at-large team, participating in the First Four before its Final Four run.

The Wildcats did not participate in the conference tournament due to the ban.

Miller's Arizona career ends with him going 302-109 in Tucson with three Pac-12 titles. Before his Arizona stint, he spent the previous five seasons in Xavier, leading the Musketeers to four NCAA tournaments and one Elite Eight appearance.