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Arizona releases Notice of Allegations against men's basketball program

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arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-ncaa-allegations-recruiting-miller-book-phelps-update Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Well, at least now we finally know what the NCAA has actually alleged Arizona of doing.

The UA on Friday evening released the Notice of Allegations it received from the NCAA last fall, doing so after an Arizona Superior Court judge ruled this week in favor of a lawsuit filed by ESPN. It includes accusations of five Level I infractions, considered the most serious, most of which had already been reported:

  • Unethical recruiting conduct by former assistant coaches Book Richardson and Mark Phelps.
  • Unethical conduct by Richardson for accepting $20,000 in bribes, for which Richardson was arrested; he pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge and was sentenced to 3 months in prison.
  • Unethical conduct by Phelps for asking a UA player (Keanu Pinder) to delete texts related to an impermissible $500 loan he’d provided him, and also lying to investigators.
  • Head coach responsibility for Sean Miller for not demonstrating he promoted compliance.
  • Lack of institutional control against Arizona for the actions of the men’s basketball and swimming programs. The swim program is accused of two Level II violations.

Phelps and Richardson are accused of numerous recruiting violations, including allegations that Phelps employed other student-athletes to help him recruit certain prospects.

Phelps and Pinder were both suspended for unspecified reasons in November 2017, and in February 2019 Phelps was put on administrative leave and eventually fired. This was reportedly due to helping then-UA commit Shareef O’Neal with an online class.

What is not in the NOA is anything related to the February 2018 reports but ESPN alleging Miller was caught on a federal wiretap (which came from the FBI investigation that led to Richardson’s arrest) discussing a $100,000 payment to ensure Deandre Ayton would play for Arizona.

Miller has denied that accusation and said in March 2018 he’d never knowingly violated any NCAA rules. All mentions it about him in the NOA are related to his oversight of the program and a not properly monitoring Phelps and Richardson.

The UA self-imposed a postseason ban for this year back in December, at the time saying it was a proactive measure in response to realizing its assistant coaches had behaved badly, but otherwise the school has kept quiet on the topic.

The UA has also been mum on Miller’s future since the 2020-21 season ended on Monday. Athletic director Dave Heeke has made some general statements about he and school president Dr. Robert Robbins planning to have discussions with Miller, but that’s it.

Miller, who is 302-109 in 12 seasons at Arizona, has one year remaining on the contract he signed in 2017.