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Sean Miller stands his ground, denies ESPN report

Photo: Chris Coduto/Getty Images North America

Photo: Chris Coduto/Getty Images North America

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.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

41 Comments for Sean Miller stands his ground, denies ESPN report

  1. KYJelly
    2:58 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    If there is a recording and it goes public, this will be even worse for Miller. That alone makes me believe he could be telling the truth, but probably not

    • Han
      3:07 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Plenty of examples in coaching (and politics) of people specifically denying things that then show up on tape/film. (Or in the case of politics, people denying stuff they’ve said on camera or on Twitter.)

      Pitino denied he flipped off the Rupp crowd. Until a picture of him doing it made the rounds.

      Coach K called that player (Oregon?) a liar. Until audio of his comments to the player showed up online.

      I’m not saying Miller is guilty or innocent. But denying it to his dying breath doesn’t mean he’s innocent. Hell, it took Pete Rose decades to admit he bet on games.

    • 4everUKblue
      4:15 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      We all know Pitino and K are liars.

    • BBN in H-Town
      7:12 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      @Han true, like the last POTUS to be impeached for perjury…

    • UK BigBoardUpdate
      7:28 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Sean is using the “Fake News” approach.

    • BigBlueNationDude
      9:19 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Big board is soooo mad with anything right sided. Its sad. Political debates are like 2 babies going at it

    • BBN in H-Town
      4:02 pm March 2, 2018 Permalink

      @BigBlueNationDude that’s because the majority of outspoken ideologues are ignorant concerning politics. They simply regurgitate vapid and cliche talking points they observed on Facebook or a news channel.

  2. Kevin C
    3:00 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    For him to have a legitimate argument in this, the wiretaps would have to be inconclusive in terms of the phone and/or voice that was recorded. This would have to mean that Miller would need to prove that someone impersonated him and possibly illegally gained access to his phone. Good luck with that, Sean.

  3. Kevin C
    3:01 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    BTW, I do love that this has now become “ESPN’s report”. LOL @ Yahoo/Thameltoe .

    • Han
      3:09 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      I don’t like Thamel and Forde, but they reported on different stuff. The claim about Miller was from an ESPN report.

    • AmazzzingLarry
      10:35 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      It was Mark Schlabach at ESPN, quoting “sources familiar with the FBI investigation”.

  4. Booby Petrino
    3:13 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    Just yesterday some yahoo was giving me a hard time when I made a comment about the media rushing to get news out and not always being correct. He was saying things like if the judge wants to stop the leaks, it means that the info is most likely factual and that’s why the judge wants it sealed. Well, well…
    “During a TV report, ESPN said that the phone call took place in the spring of 2017. The network then issued a correction, stating that the phone call between Miller and Dawkins took place in the spring of 2016. ESPN then corrected its first correction, stating that the phone call between Miller and Dawkins took place in the year 2016, removing the “spring” designation.

    But the timeline doesn’t add up.

    A source told 247Sports that Dawkins (who had his phone tapped by the FBI) and Miller had calls intercepted between the timeframe of June 19 of 2017, through Sept. 25.

    Sources say that the U.S. Attorney’s office notified multiple parties who had conversations with Dawkins that their phone calls had been recorded specifically during the dates of June 19, 2017 and Sept. 25, 2017.

    The fourth-ranked player in the 247Sports Composite, Ayton signed with Arizona on Nov. 10 of 2016. He arrived on campus on June 10 of 2017, according to a source. Ayton began orientation on June 19.

    • Han
      4:03 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      People have also since said that it probably wasn’t about Ayton but about trying to get Bowen to come to Arizona.

  5. Smyrna_Cat
    3:21 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    This does raise lots of question. That is a pretty direct statement if you think there MAY be a recording on it and you MAY have said something that sounds like what is being alleged. Play the tape, hear your face agreeing to the money, and you are toast. Either Miller doesn’t think there is a tape, doesn’t think it sounds like him, doesn’t think you can prove it is him, or it is too vague to prove that the speaker is agreeing to give the player $100,000.

    Either Miller is right, and he can sue Thamel, Ford, etc., … or he is wrong, and his career is toast. You could also argue he doesn’t have much to lose, since his career will be done otherwise.

    • Han
      4:06 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      First, as crappy as they are, Thamel and Forde didn’t report about Miller. That was someone at ESPN. There were two different significant reports that came out. Thamel and Forde’s report was for Yahoo.

      Second, he’s a public figure, and if he wanted to sue them for libel, he’d probably have to prove they reported incorrectly intentionally, made false claims against him knowingly.

      Third, people categorically deny things all the time that later end up being true. Both coaches and politicians have done it a lot at the highest level recently. Pitino is still denying any involvement in either of the major scandals at Louisville. How many of us believe him?

    • runningunnin.454
      4:31 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink


    • Rixter
      4:52 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Miller has nothing to lose by lying. If he doesn’t categorically deny it, he’ll be fired immediately. Why not draw that check as long as possible. You think a lying cheater is worse than a cheater who tells the truth when caught? Maybe the truth will never come out, and Miller will skate. It’s worth taking a chance

  6. Mashburnfan
    3:23 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    ok time for that mizza the mash-burna to speak on this and here we go
    .. it was BOWEN. deny that …

    • nybrasky
      3:29 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Right. The whole thing reads as though he had a conversation, just not the conversation reported. Semantics. But basically he’s going to play it as Dawkins called him on Bowen and he didn’t agree to it and the only thing he did wrong was answer the phone.

      Interestingly, a number of people who follow recruiting have said that Dawkins wouldn’t have been the guy to talk to for Ayton.

  7. nybrasky
    3:24 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    And Bill Clinton did not have sexual relations with that woman.

    • ClutchCargo
      3:37 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Beat me to it!

    • Kevin C
      3:51 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      “It depends upon what your definition of is is.” LOL, I’ll NEVER forget that line. Legen…Wait for it…Dary.

    • UK BigBoardUpdate
      7:30 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      “We had no contact with any Russians.” 😉

    • And I didn’t give uranium to them either! And my hubby and boss had NOTHING to do with North Korea and Iran getting nukes!

  8. secrick
    3:28 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t believe there is a tape, just my opinion .

  9. Bluebloodtoo
    3:56 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    We have a judicial system for this exact purpose. This system has rules for a reason. Purple don’t leak information before a trial for a purpose. That purpose is to protect the innocent. I don’t know whether Miller is innocent or not, but in America you get to be imminent until proven guilty. I don’t understand why this concept is ignored so often.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      3:57 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Damm spellchick

    • Kevin C
      4:08 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      HAHAHA….I don’t what’s better, “Purple” “imminent” or “spellchick”. 😀

    • IAmTheDanger
      6:09 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Frankly spellcheck, I’m getting a little tired of your shirt.

    • Ez21
      7:42 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      In America your not innocent until proven guilt though. If you get charged with something you go to jail first then have your trial and public opinion goes against you til you prove your innocence, if indeed you are.

    • IAmTheDanger
      8:10 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      Thanks Mr Obvious.

  10. Bluebloodtoo
    4:00 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    What if dawkins was lying about all those loans and keeping the money himself?

    • ClutchCargo
      4:32 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      This wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    • Rixter
      4:55 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

      I’d say right now it’s 50/50 if any of this happened. Might be worth it to see Forde get the pants sued off him, and he winds up writing for his high school newspaper

  11. gwhittle
    4:15 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    Perhaps the discussions to pay a player were for a different player (Brian Bowen?). If that’s the case, Miller isn’t technically lying. He only denied paying Ayton and meeting Dawkins BEFORE Ayton committed. It could also be that he was approached about paying a player in the phone call they tapped, but didn’t agree to it. The ESPN report only states that the wire tapping had him “discussing” paying a player to come to Arizona. It doesn’t say he agreed to it. There’s still just too much we don’t know and won’t know for at least a couple of years

  12. Kychopsticks
    6:36 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    Admits he worked with Dawkins! Was after his star player committed! Hmm

  13. Jiminy Crickets
    7:26 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    didnt his assistant coach “Book” Richardson get fired for DIRECT involvement with Dawkins?

    The original report, which was again reported a few days ago states….

    “University of Arizona men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller and former assistant coach Book Richardson are not the end of the school’s ties to the NCAA basketball scandal. There’s still another Arizona assistant coach tied to the FBI complaint released in September.

    The FBI complaint charging Richardson details a recorded conversation in which financial adviser Munish Sood, who faces bribery and wire fraud charges, said that he met with Richardson and an unnamed Arizona coach on March 8, 2017, at a restaurant in Las Vegas.

    The complaint is not clear on what other coach’s position is but says a review of Sood’s phone records show Sood had contact with a number belonging to a Wildcats assistant basketball coach other than Richardson the following day.

    “In addition, Sood’s call records for March 9 also show that Sood exchanged two telephone calls with a cellphone number that I know is subscribed to by another individual who was then an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at (Arizona),” an FBI agent wrote in the complaint.”

    So….Miller may not have directly spoke for a recruit, bt to say Arizona is in spot light “for all the wrong reasons” seems a stretch

  14. ukkatzfan
    9:04 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    A 3.6 million dollar contract that allows a coach to make $300,000/month. One more lie that gets me another 300-600k or more before the truth comes out. Career is over either way. I tell the lie. But not a big believer in espn being honest in their reporting either. So 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. Could be either way.

  15. BigBlueNationDude
    9:19 pm March 1, 2018 Permalink

    Him and Cal are boys

  16. AmazzzingLarry
    1:04 am March 2, 2018 Permalink

    No idea who is telling the truth. Either Miller is a fraud and gets what’s coming to him and Arizona is embarrassed for backing him, or ESPN lied and is once again exposed as buffoons. Win-win.