The hammer is finally being dropped.
More than three years after former assistant coach Book Richardson was arrested in the FBI investigation into college basketball corruption, the Arizona Wildcats are expected to receive a formal Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Thursday, according a report from Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde.
Per Forde, Arizona’s case is considered one of the most significant among the 12 schools that were involved in the probe. If true, the Wildcats could be hit with a postseason ban, loss of scholarships, recruiting visit restrictions, a head coach suspension, and/or show-cause penalties. Those are the possible punishments for Level I violations, which are considered the most severe.
Of the infractions we know about, the most widely known is Richardson pleading guilty to accepting $20,000 in bribes in exchange for influencing Arizona players to sign with former agent Christian Dawkins. Richardson was sentenced to three months in prison.
In 2019, Arizona placed former assistant coach Mark Phelps on administrative leave with the intention of terminating him. He reportedly was suspended because of a “fraudulent online course” involving former UA commit Shareef O’Neal, an accusation Phelps’ attorney vehemently denied.
Phelps had previously been suspended without pay for reportedly buying a plane ticket for former UA forward Keanu Pinder.
There is also the bombshell ESPN report from 2018 that said that wiretaps have head coach Sean Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to Deandre Ayton. Miller has strongly denied that report and any wrongdoing, saying in March 2018 that he has “never knowingly” violated NCAA rules as Arizona’s head coach.
Even still, Miller can be held responsible for anything the NCAA and FBI uncovered in their investigations due to NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199 that says “a head coach is presumed to be responsible for the actions of all staff members who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach. The head coach will be held accountable for violations in the program unless he or she can rebut the presumption of responsibility.”
Miller is scheduled to meet virtually with the local media at noon, a press conference that was scheduled on Wednesday.