A few hours after Sean Miller held a press conference to strongly deny the ESPN wiretap report and say he is looking forward to coaching the Arizona Wildcats again, University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins confirmed that Miller will return to the sideline Thursday vs. Stanford — and will remain there for the rest of the season.
Miller stepped away from the team prior to Saturday’s game at Oregon after ESPN alleged wiretaps have him discussing a $100,000 payment with former ASM employee Christian Dawkins to secure the signing of Deandre Ayton.
Miller said he has never knowingly broken NCAA rules — and never will — and Robbins supported that claim after Thursday afternoon’s Arizona Board of Regents meeting in Phoenix.
He and athletic director Dave Heeke released this statement:
“We have decided that Sean Miller will remain the University of Arizona’s men’s basketball coach.
“Media reports last Friday alleged that Coach Miller was caught on a wiretap discussing a payment with a representative of a sports agency regarding one of our student-athletes. Since those reports broke, we have sought to learn everything that we can from Coach Miller about the allegations. As Coach Miller’s employer, we acted to investigate these reports.
“Earlier this week, we met with Coach Miller at length and asked him direct and pointed questions. He was eager to speak with us and answered every question we asked. At this time we have no reason to believe that Coach Miller violated NCAA rules or any laws regarding the allegation reported in the media. Additionally, he has a record of compliance with NCAA rules, and he has been cooperative with this process.
“While some might be tempted to rush to judgment when there is intense public pressure, due process is the bedrock of fair treatment and acting with integrity. With that in mind, we will continue to pursue every avenue of inquiry available to us during an active federal investigation to fully understand the facts. We recognize that investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to be respectful and cooperative through its conclusion. Steptoe & Johnson continues its investigation into our athletics compliance, and we will carefully review and act on its conclusions. We anticipate this report will be thorough and based on facts.
“We want to thank our student-athletes for the strength they have exhibited during this challenging situation. We are confident that they will continue to respond with commitment, integrity and excellence. Deandre Ayton, who has been subjected to false, public reports that impugned his reputation, has our full support. We ask that the Wildcat Family rally behind these young men and our coaching staff tonight and throughout the rest of our season.
ABOR Chair Bill Ridenour fully supports Robbins’ decision to retain Miller.
“I am confident he has been thorough in his assessment of this situation,” Ridenour said in a statement. “I also appreciate Coach Miller’s forthright statement to the press today. As the governing body of Arizona’s public universities, ABOR is committed to doing everything possible to uphold the integrity of the institutions we oversee.
“This pledge extends to collegiate athletic programs, which must adhere to the high standards established by each university. Basketball is a beloved sport at the University of Arizona and throughout Arizona. The integrity of our institutions cannot be compromised. As a Wildcat, the excellence of the University of Arizona, our student athletes and the success of future generations of students is deeply important to me. The board will remain in close contact with Dr. Robbins as this process continues.”
Arizona and Stanford tip off at 8 p.m. on Thursday in McKale Center. The Wildcats can clinch a share of the Pac-12 title with a victory.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire