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Arizona issues statement refuting new NCAA investigation

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arizona-wildcats-college-basketball-ncaa-investigation-fbi-bribery-miller-statement-deandre-ayton Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

All those a media reports that the NCAA has launched a new investigation into the Arizona men’s basketball program are wrong, technically. So says the school itself in a statement issued Saturday afternoon:

The University of Arizona is correcting recent inaccurate media reports. Any reports stating that the NCAA has either “started” or “launched” a new investigation at the University of Arizona are entirely false. To be clear, we will continue to cooperate fully with any NCAA proceedings in the best interest of the University and the men’s basketball program.”

It was first reported in February by Yahoo! Sports that the NCAA had begun an investigation into the program, almost certainly stemming from Arizona’s connections to the federal college basketball bribery scandal. The school had never formally confirmed such an inquiry had begun until Friday, when it told the Arizona Daily Star that “investigations into the University of Arizona men’s basketball program are ongoing at this time.”

That apparently led some outlets to consider this a new investigation, not the one that was first reported on nearly three months ago, prompting athletics department spokesman Matt Ensor to issue a statement correcting the record.

Arizona is one of several schools entangled in the corruption scandal, with former basketball assistant Emanuel ‘Book’ Richardson among a handful of people arrested in September 2017. He has since pleaded guilty to bribery and is set to be sentenced May 12.

Two defendants, Christian Dawkins and Merl Code, are currently on trial in New York City on bribery charges, and during that trial several mentions of Arizona coach Sean Miller have been made either in testimony or on wiretapped conversations, including claims he paid ex-Wildcat star Deandre Ayton $100,000 to play in Tucson. Miller himself hasn’t been heard on any recordings, though.

Miller has not spoken publicly since Arizona was beaten by USC in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament in mid-March. His only comments related to the federal investigation—other than variations of ‘no comment’—came in March 2018 when he emphatically denied ever paying a player.