Ever since ESPN reported that Sean Miller allegedly discussed a $100,000 payment for Deandre Ayton, the story’s veracity has only gotten shakier and shakier.
ESPN originally said the wiretapped conversation between Miller and former ASM employee Christian Dawkins about Ayton took place in spring of 2017, but then it corrected it to “spring of 2016” and then just “2016.”
However, 247Sports reported Monday that that timeline doesn’t add up, because the conversations weren’t being recorded then:
A source told 247Sports that Dawkins (who had his phone tapped by the FBI) and Miller had calls intercepted between the timeframe of June 19 of 2017, through Sept. 25.
Sources say that the U.S. Attorney’s office notified multiple parties who had conversations with Dawkins that their phone calls had been recorded specifically during the dates of June 19, 2017 and Sept. 25, 2017.
Plus, 247Sports reported that Dawkins was not involved in Ayton’s recruitment.
Meanwhile, Ayton’s family has denied any wrongdoing, and the UA’s outside counsel strongly defended him, saying there is “not a shred” of evidence that suggests he broke any NCAA rules.
And now another outlet, Yahoo!, is questioning ESPN’s report. According to Pat Forde, who uncovered federal documents that detailed several potential NCAA violations around the sport, there has been “a considerable amount amount of discussion and disagreement over it.”
Here is what Forde said on ESPN 680 in Louisville on Tuesday (transcribed by our friend Shane Dale at ABC15 in Phoenix):
“There has been a significant amount of smoke out there about Arizona, and some of it did relate to Sean Miller. There was nothing in the documents we reviewed that implicated Sean Miller,” he said.
“Now, Arizona certainly, if you look at the emails from Christian Dawkins, talking about the deals that he was allegedly trying to arrange with assistant coaches Book Richardson and Joe Pasternack, and trying to shop Brian Bowen to them, and trying to set up to get Arizona players Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Alkins as clients for ASM, that was absolutely going on,” Forde said. “Do we have anything specifically in those documents that Sean Miller is involved? No.
“Was he involved or not? I don’t know. We’re going to find out. But from an NCAA standpoint, as Rick Pitino can tell you, it doesn’t matter. If your assistants are involved, you by de facto responsibility are involved.”
It’s a bad look for Miller either way, but ESPN’s report would be a lot more damaging if true.
So what will this all lead to? We should find out soon.
Miller and his lawyers reportedly met with University of Arizona administrators Monday to discuss his future, which is expected to be decided “sooner rather than later,” per 247Sports.
Miller, who said he is confident he will be “vindicated,” stepped away from the team Saturday before Arizona’s game at Oregon, and has not returned.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire