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Arizona’s Sean Miller will not coach the Wildcats on Saturday night against Oregon, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Miller has come under increasing scrutiny this week after media reports further linked him and his coaching staff to the ongoing federal investigation of corruption in college basketball. ESPN reported Friday that FBI wiretaps recorded a discussion between Miller and former ASM Sports agency employee Christian Dawkins discussing a payment of $100,000 in exchange for signing Deandre Ayton.
Arizona announced Saturday afternoon that Ayton “is eligible and will play” against Oregon.
ESPN reported that wiretaps of phone conversations reveal that Miller told Dawkins to deal directly with him when it came to money, not former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson. ESPN cited sources familiar with the government’s evidence in the years-long probe.
Also Friday, Yahoo Sports cited emails from Dawkins to his colleagues at ASM discussing player bartering with former Arizona assistant coaches Joe Pasternack (now the head coach at UC Santa Barbara) and Richardson (fired last month). Dawkins said in the emails he was offering to potentially steer highly touted recruit Brian Bowen to Arizona in exchange for the coaches delivering Wildcats Rawle Alkins and Lauri Markkanen to ASM Sports as clients when they turned professional.
“Joe told me verbatim he will help us get all the Arizona players so put his feet to the fire,” Dawkins wrote in one email from the summer of 2016.
In another email, Dawkins said that Richardson was the key to signing Alkins: “Book at Arizona has the juice with the situation, they’re going to listen to him. Nobody else is involved besides book, the kid and Rodney [Alkins’ cousin]. The mom has say but I think she will depend on Rodney. He can get stuff done.”
Richardson was arrested last September and hit with bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges in the U.S. Attorney’s basketball probe.
The 7-foot-1 Ayton, widely projected as a top-five pick in this year’s NBA draft, leads Arizona in scoring (19.6 points per game), rebounding (10.9) and blocked shots (1.9). The Wildcats (22-6) already are without No. 2 scorer Allonzo Trier, who tested positive for a performance enhancing drug for the second time in his college career and was suspended by the NCAA this week. Arizona is appealing the ruling, arguing that the presence of the steroid Ostarine in Trier’s urine sample was simply a residual trace from when he originally and unwittingly ingested it in 2016.