Sean Miller announced on Thursday at a press conference in the McKale Center that he is ‘looking forward’ to returning to coach Arizona this season.
“I look forward to coaching this outstanding team as we look to capture a Pac-12 championship this week,” he said.
Miller did not coach on Saturday night in Arizona’s loss at Oregon. Ayton, however, was allowed to remain with the team and play in the game.
On Friday night, a report was published that stated Miller was caught on a wiretap by the FBI discussing with Christian Dawkins, a runner for ex-NBA agent Andy Miller, a $100,000 payment that was to be made to secure the services of Deandre Ayton, the top recruit in the Class of 2017 and an all-american this season that may end up being the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
In his statement, Miller was emphatic in his denial of that report.
“Let me be very, very clear: I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona,” he said. “Anything reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory.”
“There was no such conversation.”
Miller did, however, concede that he was asked about a potential deal to pay a player to attend the university, but that the deal never occurred.
“The one time someone suggested to me paying a player to come to the University of Arizona, I never agreed to it. It never happened and that player never came to Arizona,” Miller said.
He did not elaborate on who that player was, but connecting the dots it would appear to be Brian Bowen. The number mentioned in the ESPN report involving Deandre Ayton is the same number that Louisville agree to pay Bowen. Dawkins was involved with Bowen’s recruitment and, at one point, many believed that Bowen would eventually end up at Arizona.
An attorney for the Ayton family released a statement vociferously denying that Ayton or anyone associated with him received payment to influence his decision to enroll at Arizona. In the days following ESPN’s initial report, questions began to mount regarding the timeline presented in the story and whether or not it made sense that Dawkins would have influence in Ayton’s recruitment.
ESPN has since issued two officials corrections regarding the timeline they presented in the initial report.