The FBI investigation into corruption in the NCAA college basketball world looks like it has found its first casualty. The first major university to make a major change is the Arizona Wildcats. ESPN learned, based on FBI wiretapping, that Sean Miller had allegedly spoken about paying a player $100,000 to attend the school. The fallout started one day later. ESPN reported that Miller did not coach the Wildcats on Saturday when they played the Oregon Ducks and they followed that with a report that Shareef O’Neal, the son of Shaquille O’Neal, has de-committed from Arizona in the midst of the allegations.
The Sean Miller FBI Investigation Fallout
The fallout from the FBI investigation into college basketball corruption has indicated that as many as 20 colleges are under investigation, and one of those schools is the University of Arizona. As previously reported, Sean Miller was the first high-profile head coach the FBI allegedly caught on the wiretap.
ESPN reported that NCAA President Mark Emmert responded to the news of the wiretap by saying that Arizona had to make the decision on whether to allow Sean Miller to continue coaching and the player in question, Deandre Ayton, to continue to play.
The University of Arizona responded to the FBI investigation by having Sean Miller not coach the team on Saturday, replacing him with Lorenzo Romar. However, the Wildcats did allow Ayton to play and he has so far retained his eligibility. While the wiretap news is damaging, Miller still maintains his innocence.
“I continue to fully support the University’s efforts to fully investigate this matter and am confident that I will be vindicated.”
Shareef O’Neal Pulls Out Of Arizona Commitment
When the FBI investigation into the Arizona Wildcats became public knowledge, Shaquille O’Neal’s son Shareef O’Neal pulled out of his commitment. In a tweet, he said that it was in his best interest to play for a different college.
At this time I'm am opening up my recruitment due to the current events with the UofA Bball team.I would like to thank all the coaches for recruiting me. At the time my family and I think it's in my best interest to look at other options to assure my play in the NCAA next year.— Shareef O’Neal (@SSJreef) February 24, 2018
This is slightly ironic since Shaquille O’Neal told the Los Angeles Times in 2016 that the LSU Tigers paid him very well to play college basketball for the team. He also reportedly laughed and said the “statute of limitations” was up when it comes to punishing the school for the infraction.
This is true, as athletic scholarship resource website Athnet reports that the NCAA rulebook states that any notice of infractions such as this has to be reported within four years unless there is a “blatant disregard for the Association’s fundamental recruiting.”
Al.com reported back in 2014 that Charles Barkley also said that Auburn paid him while he was playing for them in college. This isn’t new, but this also isn’t something that is going to go well for the colleges now.
Shareef O’Neal likely realizes that this FBI investigation will result in major penalties for the universities implicated and there will be little chance to play in the NCAA championship if they are found guilty. Arizona is just the first domino likely to fall. O’Neal is a Top-30 prospect in the 2018 recruiting class.