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Arizona wanted ‘fresh start’ from Sean Miller era

Utah v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The University of Arizona parted ways with men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller Wednesday, putting an end to a 12-year run that brought the school consistent success on the hardwood until Miller’s program was ensnared in the 2017 FBI sting.

Though university administration had publicly supported Miller over the last four years, President Robert C. Robbins hesitated to back that talk with a contract extension for Miller.

Now that the dust has settled around Miller’s departure, Robbins and Athletics Director Dave Heeke are making their first public comments on Miller’s tenure and the direction of the program.

“After conferring with Dave Heeke since the season’s end, it has become clear that our men’s basketball program – and our University – needs to write a new chapter in our history, and that begins with a change of leadership,” Robbins said in a statement. “Arizona Basketball means so much to so many and, as stewards of the program, we must always act in the best interests of the university. I believe our future is bright, and I look forward to welcoming a new head coach to the Wildcat family.”

The school said it would immediately embark on a national coaching search for Miller’s replacement.

“We appreciate Sean’s commitment to our basketball program and to the university,” said Heeke. “After taking the many factors involved into account, we simply believe that we need a fresh start and now is the time. I want to thank Sean, Amy and their sons for their service to the university and wish them the very best in the future.”

Heeke added, “We have a storied men’s basketball program with unbelievable fan support, facilities and resources. While we will not put a timeline on our search, we will move as expeditiously as possible and will include a broad array of candidates, identifying coaches who exhibit integrity, competitiveness and a genuine care for the student-athletes. I am confident that we will have a diverse pool and find the right fit for Arizona men’s basketball.”

Arizona has reportedly expressed interest in Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd. Lloyd, the right hand man of Bulldogs head coach Mark Few, has never held a head coaching position.

The school is also likely to reach out to alums Josh Pastner, head coach at Georgia Tech, and Damon Stoudamire, head coach at Pacific, among other candidates.