Former Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller escaped penalties Wednesday when a report by the Independent Accountability Resolution Process broadly accepted the program’s self-imposed penalties stemming from an NCAA rule violation case dating back to 2017.
Arizona’s athletics program was placed on three years’ probation through 2025. The school announced a one-year postseason ban in December 2020, which went into effect for the 2020-21 season.
The IARP report released Wednesday said former assistant coach Emanuel Richardson received a 10-year show lawsuit penalty after he “solicited and accepted $20,000 in cash kickbacks and paid $40,000 for a fraudulent academic transcript.”
Another former assistant coach, Mark Phelps, received a two-year show lawsuit after he provided “an inadmissible advantage to a student-athlete and then ordered the student-athlete to conceal the violation.”
The basketball program will also lose an additional scholarship for the 2023-24 season.
Miller emerged largely unscathed from the report. He is now Xavier’s head coach.
The Independent Accountability Resolution Process was created to handle particularly complex cases and acts outside the purview of the NCAA.
The infractions report states that “There was no violation found for the former men’s basketball head coach because the jury determined that the former men’s basketball head coach demonstrated that he fostered an atmosphere of compliance and monitored two of his assistant coaches regarding the academic eligibility of prospective student-athlete men’s basketball, rebutting the head coach’s presumption of liability.
The jury’s decision is final, which means there will be no appeals.
Arizona was originally charged with nine counts of misconduct, including five Level I violations, in a notice of charges sent by the NCAA in October 2020. The violations included lack of institutional oversight and failure to monitor of the university and the lack of control of Miller’s head coach.
But the IARP report was much more lenient towards Miller in its report.
Arizona announced that Miller would be leaving after 12 seasons in 2021. The Wildcats hired former Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd to take his place.
Miller has regularly attended some of the top recruiting classes in the nation since being lured by Xavier in 2009, but his recruiting methods came under scrutiny when Richardson was among 10 people arrested as part of a federal investigation into basketball corruption university.
Richardson was fired from the university and later pleaded guilty to accepting $20,000 in bribes from aspiring manager Christian Dawkins. He was sentenced to three months in prison in 2019.
Miller missed a game in 2018 after ESPN reported that he was overheard on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,000 payout to future NBA No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton. Miller vehemently denied the report, and Robbins announced a few days later that Miller would remain the head coach of the Wildcats.
The investigation also included Arizona’s swimming and diving program, which received relatively minor penalties.
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