Despite Arizona Board of Regents member Bill Ridenour’s claim that Arizona head coach Sean Miller’s job is safe, the board’s chairman doesn’t believe the situation to be so clear-cut.
Chairman Ron Shoopman told ESPN that Ridenour’s comments to the Arizona Republic on Wednesday were not completely accurate and that his committee is unwilling to commit to the protection of Miller’s position.
“We never made a statement to that effect,” Shoopman said to ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura.
The Arizona Board of Regents held a private meeting with University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke on Thursday at the Arizona State University downtown campus to offer “legal advice and discussion regarding University of Arizona Men’s Basketball.”
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With the Wildcats as one of the focal points in ongoing federal investigations regarding unethical college basketball recruiting, Miller’s name has been at the center of national attention.
The Wildcats were named in a federal trial in which three colluders were convicted for felony conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Among those convicted was former runner Christian Dawkins, who has been mentioned in conjunction with Arizona’s alleged plans to pay recruits.
It was revealed during the trial that Dawkins and Miller made contact over the phone 13 times between May 3, 2017 and July 2, 2017. This aligned with the recruitment timeline of highly-touted prospect Brian Bowen II, who’s currently a member of the Sidney Kings in Australia’s National Basketball League.
Bowen’s father, Brian Bowen Sr., claimed during the trial that former Wildcats assistant Joe Pasternack made an offer of $50,000 for Bowen’s commitment to join Arizona’s basketball program. It was later suggested that Arizona was also prepared to offer $150,000 for the commitment of combo guard Nassir Little, who opted to sign with UNC instead.
“Is it concerning to us, what’s going on in the national stage? You bet,” Shoopman said to Bonagura. “We are as concerned as you are, but you have our pledge that we will take action when action is warranted, and we’re aggressively pursuing the facts as we look into all of this.”
Dawkins was linked to Arizona in the initial ESPN report that broke about Arizona’s alleged plan to pay $100,000 to the Phoenix Suns’ No. 1 overall pick, Deandre Ayton.
After allegedly accepting bribes from and working alongside Dawkins, former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson will head to trial in April to face two counts of fraud and charges of soliciting bribes as an agent of a federally funded organization. The NCAA could begin it’s own investigation after the Richardson trial.
With Miller at the helm, Arizona began the season with a 95-44 blowout victory over Western New Mexico in an exhibition held at McKale Center in Tucson. Regardless of the noise generated by the Wildcats’ off-court antics, the team is prepared to tackle the rejuvenated Pac-12 headlined by a brand new core.
Arizona will host Chaminade for the second and final exhibition game of the preseason on Sunday.
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