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Could Arizona’s Sean Miller be the next coach to go over scandal?

Arizona coach Sean Miller lifts the cut net after his Wildcats defeated Oregon 83-80 in the championship game of the 2017 Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
Arizona coach Sean Miller lifts the cut net after his Wildcats defeated Oregon 83-80 in the championship game of the 2017 Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. Associated Press

We know the fate of Rick Pitino, officially placed on administrative leave Wednesday by the University of Louisville, “effectively fired” according to his attorney, and now possibly under FBI investigation for being “Coach-2” in a federal complaint.

What about Arizona coach Sean Miller?

After all, Miller’s longtime assistant, Book Richardson, was among the four major college assistant coaches who were arrested Tuesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in New York City for an alleged bribery and fraud scheme involving college basketball.

Arizona allegedly paid one recruit and might have offered $150,000 to another.

Miller wasn’t implicated in the FBI complaint, but there are plenty of questions about what the Arizona coach knew, about his possible involvement, about the program that he has run the past seven seasons — a program that has reached the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight three times.

So far, anyway, Miller isn’t talking. Various Arizona administrators have issued statements about the scandal, but Miller hasn’t said a word publicly either through the media or in a university statement.

Miller’s brother Archie, the new head coach at Indiana, addressed the subject briefly Thursday at IU’s media day.

“I’ll address the college basketball setting right now, that we can get some things out of the way,” Miller said, according to Stu Jackson of Rivals. “I’m as surprised as anyone, just like probably 99 percent of the basketball world, about what’s going on. I’ve had very little information other than what you guys have, so I’ll probably stay away from commenting on the actual facts.

“When it comes to Arizona, obviously very prideful there with my family. I’ve been able to talk to Sean only one time, very briefly, to add my support.”

ESPN’s Jay Bilas voiced his support of Sean Miller via Twitter.

Nothing from the coach himself, however, despite the mounting questions, as outlined by Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star.

“What did the Arizona head coach know, if anything, about the $20,000 in bribes assistant coach Book Richardson was accused of taking?” Pascoe wrote. “Was Miller aware that, according to the federal complaint, another UA coach met with the sports agent also charged in the investigation? That former associate head coach Joe Pasternack may have talked with a sports agent twice on the telephone?”

After two years undercover, the FBI found members of top NCAA basketball programs involved in corrupt bribery schemes. Here's how those schemes worked.

University of Arizona president Robert Robbins has begun an investigation of Richardson, just as the Wildcats began practice as the No. 1 team in the country, according to some pre-season publications.

Richardson joined Miller’s staff at Xavier in 2007 and continued with him to Tucson. Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, who was among the four coaches arrested, was fired by the school, but Richardson was “immediately suspended and relieved of all duties.”

Arizona’s media day was scheduled for Wednesday. It was postponed.

Across the state, Arizona State did hold its media day this week. Said ASU coach Bobby Hurley: “I think there’s going to have to be a wider examination of college basketball and the system when the dust settles. Certainly it doesn’t appear to be a system that works right now. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of conversation about that in the next couple of months.”

Under Miller, Arizona has regularly had top recruiting classes. Rivals had the Wildcats at No. 3, behind No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kentucky, in its team rankings for 2017. Arizona also was No. 3 in Rivals’ 2016 rankings.

Could Miller not have known what his longtime assistant was doing in securing top players? That’s the question people want answered, but so far Miller isn’t talking.

Sean Miller’s coaching record

Year

School

Record

Conf

Post-season

2004-05

Xavier

17-12

10-6

2005-06

Xavier

21-11

8-8

NCAA First Round

2006-07

Xavier

25-9

13-3

NCAA Second Round

2007-08

Xavier

30-7

14-2

NCAA Elite Eight

2008-09

Xavier

27-8

12-4

NCAA Sweet 16

2009-10

Arizona

16-15

10-8

2010-11

Arizona

30-8

14-4

NCAA Elite Eight

2011-12

Arizona

23-12

12-6

NCAA First Round

2012-13

Arizona

27-8

12-6

NCAA Sweet 16

2013-14

Arizona

33-5

15-3

NCAA Elite Eight

2014-15

Arizona

34-4

16-2

NCAA Elite Eight

2015-16

Arizona

25-9

12-6

NCAA First Round

2016-17

Arizona

32-5

16-2

NCAA Sweet 16

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