University of Arizona Men’s Basketball Coach Accused of Offering $100,000 to Star Player
On February 25, 2018, ESPN reported that the FBI had several wiretapped conversations between the University of Arizona Wildcats’ head coach, Sean Miller, and Christian Dawkins. Reportedly, the two had several conversations about paying $100,000 to guarantee that freshman star center, Deandre Ayton, signed with Arizona. As we have previously reported, Dawkins currently stands accused of facilitating six-figure payments to basketball players and their families in exchange for promises that the players would enroll at Adidas sponsored NCAA Division I schools and later would hire Dawkins. On February 21, 2018, Yahoo Sports reported that wiretaps, financial records, and documents, tied to prominent former NBA agent, Andy Miller, and his former associate, Christian Dawkins, have provided the federal prosecution with a detailed window into the ongoing NCAA corruption/bribery case. The telephone calls between Miller and Dawkins were among 3,000 hours of conversations intercepted from Dawkins’ phone.
Miller did not coach in Arizona’s against Oregon State University on February 24, 2018, but Ayton was ruled eligible to play. Miller did issue a statement: “”I believe it is in the best interests of our team that I not coach the game tonight. I continue to fully support the University’s efforts to fully investigate this matter and am confident that I will be vindicated.” Attorney Paul Kelly, currently conducting Arizona’s internal investigation, issued a statement on February 25, 2018, vouching for Ayton’s eligibility to play. According to his statement, “Over the past several months, Mr. Ayton has voluntarily submitted to several interviews … [and] has credibly and consistently maintained that neither he nor any member of his family … received any money or extra benefit to influence his decision to attend the University of Arizona. Not a shred of evidence has been adduced suggesting otherwise, which federal investigators and NCAA officials have acknowledged.”
Ayton, a 7-foot-1 center from the Bahamas, is considered one of the top freshmen in the country and Miller has been the head coach for Arizona’s men’s basketball team since 2009.