SI Refutes ESPN Report on Sean Miller, Deandre Ayton, Arizona FBI Investigation

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2018

Arizona head coach Sean Miller directs his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

The Sean Miller saga took another turn Thursday. 

Citing a source familiar with the FBI's ongoing probe into corruption and bribery in college basketball, Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann reported "details of a wiretapped phone call involving Miller were inaccurately reported" by ESPN.  

The story in question was first published by ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach, who reported Arizona's head basketball coach was overheard talking to Christian Dawkins on an FBI wiretap about a $100,000 payment for Deandre Ayton. 

According to McCann, "relevant FBI wiretaps in the investigation did not begin until 2017—months after five-star recruit Deandre Ayton had already committed to Arizona in Sept. 2016."

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow and Josh Gershon of 247Sports first reported the wiretapped calls referenced were made between June 19 and Sept. 25 of last year and not during Ayton's recruitment. 

Miller issued a statement Thursday at a press conference and denied any wrongdoing. 

"I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program," Miller said. "I have never paid a recruit or prospect or their family or representative to come to Arizona. I never have and I never will. I have never arranged or directed payment or any improper benefits to a recruit or a prospect or their family or representative, and I never will."

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Miller was also adamant he never spoke to Dawkins about paying Ayton to secure his commitment to the Wildcats. 

"Let me be very, very clear: I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona," he said. "In fact, I never even met or spoke to Christian Dawkins until after Deandre publicly announced that he was coming to our school. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory."

ESPN said Thursday it stands by its reporting in response to Miller's comments.

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