After the FBI went through more than 3,000 hours of phone calls, it was found that Arizona Wildcats Coach Sean Miller negotiated behind closed doors with Christian Dawkins to secure DeAndre Ayton’s enrollment for the team.
Miller was included in the investigation after the FBI started creating a profile of Dawkins, a key person in the FBI’s college basketball corruption case. Dawkins was exposed earlier Friday in a Yahoo! report as his transactions went public. Allegedly, Dawkins committed multiple NCAA violations, making his case a responsibility of a federal court.
Interestingly, during a call between Miller and Dawkins, the 24-year-old associate mentioned assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson to confirm the details of their agreement. However, Miller intercepted and said that Dawkins should deal with him directly, especially when they’re talking about money.
According to ESPN, the two already had multiple conversations about Ayton. At the time, Ayton, a 7-foot-1 center born in the Bahamas, was the top center freshman in the country and was set to be a candidate for national player of the year honors. Because of this, the two sides are coordinating to get the best new rookie. Even ESPN analyst Jonathan Givony predicts Ayton to be the No. 2 prospect during this year’s NBA draft.
If Sean Miller gets fired for cause, the way Arizona has written his deal, he would still get roughly 85% of the money he has remaining ($10.3M out of $12M). That’s a virtually unprecedented take for a for cause firing. Most coaches get $0.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 24, 2018
As for the duo, it is highly possible that Miller will be included in the corruption investigation, and it may involve other players as well. Dawkins’ records, found by the FBI, were said to include transactions from 2015 to 2017.
Ayton moved from the Bahamas to San Diego to play two seasons of high school basketball. In 2015, he transferred to Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix. By Sept. 3, 2016, Ayton committed to Arizona even though he was still considering scholarship offers from Kentucky, Maryland, Kansas, and San Diego State. Miller described Ayton as “one of these once-in-a-generation types of players.”
The 49-year-old Miller had his contract extended in Feb. 2017, with a salary increase of at least $2.9 million until 2022. So far, he has denied allegations from Richardson’s team claiming he bribed players to sign with the Wildcats. Last September, he even released a statement saying he’s responsible for not only creating a culture of success but also “as important, to promote and reinforce a culture of compliance.”
“To the best of my ability, I have worked to demonstrate this over the past eight years and will continue to do so as we move forward.”
Even though Miller could be charged and proven guilty, his contract is extremely protected and he is set to receive 85 percent of his total contract price even if he is fired “with a cause.” It also includes a violation in the NCAA and if that happens, his only damage is a $300,000 fee to cover the university’s legal expense.