Arizona can finally close the book on a dark chapter of its recent past.
The NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) has made its decision on how to punish Arizona for numerous alleged violations, mostly by the men’s basketball program under former coach Sean Miller.
And the punishment is … not that much. Or at least, not much more than had already been self-imposed.
The Wildcats will lose one scholarship for the 2023-24 season, while for a 7-week period during the 2022-23 season they’ll be unable to communicate with recruits via phone or written messages. Additionally, the school will be issued a $5,000 fine, while all wins and titles from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons will be vacated.
That’s it. After more than five years, that’s it, because the IARP took into account the self-imposed penalties Arizona issued during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, including the postseason ban in Miller’s final season.
Miller, who has since returned to Xavier for a second stint and has the Musketeers at 8-3, received no suspension or any other type of punishment beyond the vacated wins, with the IARP ruling he “demonstrated that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance and monitored two of his assistant coaches regarding the academic eligibility of men’s basketball prospective student-athletes, rebutting the presumption of head coach responsibility.”
Former UA assistants Book Richardson and Mark Phelps were not as fortunate. They were hit with 10- and 2-year show cause penalties, respectively, which means neither can coach in college for those periods of time.
Richardson spent three months in prison after pleading guilty to federal bribery charges. His arrest in September 2017, as part of an FBI sting operation, came after he accepted bribes from aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins in exchange for trying to steer a UA player (allegedly Rawle Alkins) toward his agency.
Arizona issued statements from men’s basketball coach Tommy Lloyd, school president Dr. Robert Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke:
The IARP, established by the NCAA in 2019 as another mechanism to handle major violations cases, is set to be dissolved once it completes all active investigations.
Arizona’s record books are to wipe out all accomplishments in 2016-17 and 2017-18, when the Wildcats went a combined 59-13 overall and 30-6 in Pac-12 play, with a pair of regular season and conference tournament titles, as well as a Sweet 16 appearance in 2017.
So that technically means the first-round loss to Buffalo by a team led by future NBA No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton never happened, right?