The University of Arizona has placed assistant coach Mark Phelps placed on administrative leave as the school has initiated the process to terminate him. Phelps, in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Wildcats under head coach Sean Miller, was the longest-tenured assistant on Arizona’s staff.
According to a report by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, Phelps was involved in placing a former Arizona commit into an online course. The probable termination of Phelps could also be a troubling sign for Miller, as the coach could be apart of a high-profile trial, while the NCAA is also reportedly starting to ask questions. This could be a move by Arizona to begin building its case to move on from Miller.
The school gave the following statement about Phelps to Jason Scheer of Wildcat Authority.
“University of Arizona Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Phelps was placed on administrative leave on February 5, 2019 based upon an unresolved NCAA matter. Coach Phelps has performed his duties in strict compliance with NCAA and University policies. In correspondence dated January 22, 2019, Counsel for Coach Phelps was advised of the following by the NCAA Director of Enforcement: “At this point, the enforcement staff has made no determinations regarding potential violations involving Coach Phelps as we are still in the process of collecting information and conducting interviews.”
The 53-year-old Phelps has Division I experience as both a head coach (Drake) and a high-level assistant coach (Arizona, Arizona State, Marquette, Missouri) as he’s been a key staff member for Arizona. Now that Phelps has been placed on leave, Miller is without any of the assistant coaches who helped him through most of the past few years. Emanuel “Book” Richardson has been involved in the FBI scandal and recently took a felony plea while Joe Pasternack was hired as head coach at UC Santa Barbara.
Without any of his former assistants on staff with him, it’ll be even easier for Arizona to potentially clean house if they decide to move on from Miller. It seems like daily developments are starting to happen with this, as a resolution to everything could happen soon.