Former Arizona coach Miller not sanctioned in NCAA case

Former Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller escaped sanctions on Wednesday when a report from the Independent Accountability Resolution Process largely accepted the program’s self-imposed penalties stemming from a NCAA rules violations case that dates back to 2017.

Arizona’s athletics program was put on three years of probation through 2025. The school announced a one-year postseason ban in December 2020, which took effect for the 2020-21 season.

The IARP report released Wednesday said former assistant coach Emanuel Richardson was given a 10-year show-cause penalty after he “solicited and accepted $20,000 in cash bribes and paid $40,000 for a fraudulent academic transcript.”

Another former assistant coach, Mark Phelps, was given a two-year show cause after he provided “an impermissible benefit to a student-athlete and then directed the student-athlete to conceal the violation.”

Miller emerged largely unscathed from the report. He is now the head coach at Xavier.

“All of the actions, or nearly all of the actions that these two assistant coaches took, were covert,” IARP arbitrator Dana Welch said. “With respect to former assistant men’s basketball coach No. 1, they were criminal. It took the FBI two years of wiretapping to find out what he had done. So in our view, these kind of actions could not have been detected by the head coach.”

The basketball program will also lose one additional scholarship for the 2023-24 season.

“This has been a long journey and I am glad everything is finally finished,” Miller said in a statement. “I am excited to move forward. I’d like to thank my wife Amy and my entire family, (Xavier) President (Colleen) Hanycz and (Xavier athletic director) Greg Christopher for their support through the completion of this process.”

The Independent Accountability Resolution Process was created to handle particularly complex cases and acts outside the purview of the NCAA.

The infractions report said it “found no violation for the former head men’s basketball coach because the hearing panel determined that the former head men’s basketball coach 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.”

The panel’s decision is final, meaning there will be no appeals.

Arizona was originally accused of nine counts of misconduct, including five Level I violations, in a Notice of Allegations sent by the NCAA in October 2020. The violations included a lack of institutional control and failure to monitor by the university, and lack of head coach control by Miller.

But the IARP report was much more lenient on Miller in its report.

Arizona announced in April 2021 that Miller was leaving the school after 12 seasons. The Wildcats hired former Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd to take his place.

Miller routinely pulled in some of the nation’s top recruiting classes after being lured from Xavier in 2009, but his recruiting methods came under scrutiny when Richardson was among 10 people arrested as part of a federal corruption investigation into college basketball.

Richardson was fired by the university and later pleaded guilty to accepting $20,000 in bribes from aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins. He was sentenced to three months in prison in 2019.

Miller sat out a game in 2018 after ESPN reported that he was heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to future No. 1 overall NBA pick Deandre Ayton. Miller vehemently denied the report and university President Robert C. Robbins announced a few days later that Miller would remain the Wildcats’ coach.

The investigation also included Arizona’s swimming and diving program, which received relatively minor penalties.

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