When ESPN broke an explosive report detailing how the FBI had Arizona coach Sean Miller agreeing to pay star incoming freshman DeAndre Ayton $100k, it appeared the school was heading for more major trouble.
Days later, after prized-recruit Shareef O’ Neal has withdrawn his commitment for UCLA, the validity of the report is being questioned by officials, & flat out denied by Miller himself.
However, the damage has been done.
“I regret all the negative attention that has been focused on our program,” Miller said. “While I have done nothing wrong, I am responsible for our men’s basketball program and I have been sickened that we are in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as coach of this great program. I have never paid a recruit or prospect … and I never will.”
“Let me be very very clear: I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying DeAndre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona,” Miller said. “I also want you to know that the one time someone suggested to me paying a player to come to the University of Arizona I did not agree to it. It did not happen, and that player did not come to the University of Arizona.”
To refresh your memory, here’s an excerpt from the ESPN report:
According to people with knowledge of the FBI investigation, Miller and Dawkins, a runner working for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller, had multiple conversations about Ayton. When Dawkins asked Sean Miller if he should work with assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson to finalize their agreement, Miller told Dawkins he should deal directly with him when it came to money, the sources said.
The telephone calls between Miller and Dawkins were among 3,000 hours of conversations intercepted from Dawkins’ phone alone by the FBI.
If ESPN did shotty reporting & it cost Arizona a top recruit, bad press, & a firestorm of questions; they could have a real problem.
Flip the page for Miller’s press conference, & ESPN’s response: