Arizona head coach Sean Miller made his first public comments since an ESPN report last weekend that said he was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100k payment to Deandre Ayton. He denied the report and said any report claiming he did so was “false and defamatory.”
“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 to Christian Dawkins until after Deandre publicly announced he was coming to our school. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory.”
Miller’s school is supporting him and he returned to coach the Wildcats on Thursday night. The entire statement can be see below.
In addition to the statement read by Miller, Sports Illustrated came out with a report of their own pointing out inaccuracies with ESPN’s report.
As Arizona coach Sean Miller forcibly professed his innocence on Thursday in a statement that affirmed his status with the team, a source familiar with the college hoops corruption investigation confirmed with SI that the details of a wiretapped phone call involving Miller were inaccurately reported in a story by ESPN that said Miller “discussed paying $100,000 to ensure star freshman Deandre Ayton signed with the Wildcats.”
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.
This is getting really good. Now media companies are taking shots at each other’s reporting.
Here we thought ESPN was about to bring down the NCAA’s current amateur structure and now if they blew this report, they could be the one taking the hit.