Five days after ESPN reported that Sean Miller was caught on a wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment for Deandre Ayton, Miller has spoken. Arizona’s head coach just went in front of reporters and denied the allegations, saying that the conversation with Christian Dawkins never took place.
“Let me be very, very clear: I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona. In fact, I never even met or spoke with Christian Dawkins until after Deandre announced publicly he was coming to our school.”
Miller said he has never knowingly violated NCAA rules as Arizona’s head coach, nor has he paid a player or prospect or arranged for an improper payment. Interestingly, he did say he was approached about paying a player once, but never agreed to it. (He didn’t say who.)
“The one time someone suggested paying a player to come to Arizona, I never agreed to it. It never happened and that player did not come to the University of Arizona.”
Miller said he hopes to continuing being Arizona’s head coach, and judging by the fact that Arizona let him make the statement today, it appears he will.
UPDATE: ESPN’s not budging either, ending their story about Miller’s comments with this: “ESPN stands by its reporting on Miller and the FBI investigation.”
So, who’s lying?
UPDATE (4:45PM): Sports Illustrated’s latest report seems to back up Miller’s claims:
According to the source, relevant FBI wiretaps in the investigation did not begin until 2017—months after five-star recruit Deandre Ayton had already committed to Arizona in Sept. 2016. This account is consistent with reporting by Evan Daniels of 247Sports. The recruitment of Ayton, therefore, would have not been at issue in an intercepted phone call that occurred in 2017. To that end, the source told SI what Miller clarified for the first time Thursday: Ayton is not the player on whose behalf former ASM Sports employee Christian Dawkins allegedly sought a payment from Miller, and Miller never pursued or made any payments to a recruit associated with Dawkins.