University of Arizona men's basketball head coach Sean Miller addressed the media Thursday.
Miller said the reports that he discussed paying freshman star Deandre Ayton in a wiretapped conversation were "false, inaccurate and defamatory."
"I'm outraged by the media statements that have been made and the acceptance by many that these statements were true," he said in a prepared statement.
According to an ESPN report, attributing anonymous sources, Miller was caught on FBI wiretap discussing with Christian Dawkins, a figure in the FBI's college basketball corruption investigation, a $100,000 payment for Deandre Ayton to play for the Wildcats. Ayton is in his freshman year playing at the University of Arizona.
The Arizona Board of Regents stood behind Miller after meeting in Phoenix Thursday, telling reporters that Miller will stay on as the U of A's head basketball coach.
The board said Miller has a history of compliance with NCAA rules and that it will reserve judgment as the investigation continues.
"[Athletic Director] Dave Heeke and I have decided that Sean Miller will remain the University of Arizona's basketball coach," University President Robert Robbins said.
Miller said there was "no such conversation" and he regrets "all of the negative attention" that this has created for the university and team.
"These statements have damaged me, my family, the university, Deandre Ayton, and his incredible family," Miller said. "The only attempted corrections by the original source of the media statements are still inaccurate and completely false."
Miller said while he's done nothing wrong, he is responsible for the men's basketball program. He's "sickened" that the team is in the spotlight for "all the wrong reasons."
"Contrary to what has been written this past week, we do our very best to run a clean program at The University of Arizona. I have done that since the first day I stepped on this campus," he said. "Compliance with NCAA rules is extremely important to us, and we work hard to create, maintain and monitor a culture of compliance within our program."
Miller did mention he was approached one time about paying a player. He said he didn't agree to it, and the player never attended the university. Miller didn't share any further details about this player.
"I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program," he said. "I have never paid a recruit or prospect, or their family or representative, to come to Arizona. I never have, and I never will. I have never arranged or directed payment or any improper benefits to a recruit or prospect, or their family or representative, and I never will."
Miller, who hasn't coached the team since the report was released, said he will now focus on basketball as he continues to coach the players and team.
"I also understand there is an ongoing federal investigation and because of this I cannot do anything that might compromise the integrity of this investigation," he said. "However, on this point, I cannot remain silent in light of media reports that have impugned the reputation of me, the university, and sullied the name of a tremendous young man, Deandre Ayton."
ABOR Chair Bill Ridenour released the following statement Thursday:
“The Arizona Board of Regents met today to receive further legal advice regarding University of Arizona men’s basketball and the multi-year employment contract for head coach Sean Miller.
While intense media interest in this issue has prompted much speculation, ABOR and the UA must act in a deliberative manner rooted in facts rather than conjecture. We owe this to the students, faculty, alumni and Arizona taxpayers we serve.
President Robbins fully briefed the board today on his investigation, concerns and findings regarding men’s basketball. Shortly, he will share with you his decision regarding Coach Miller. I fully support his decision and I am confident he has been thorough in his assessment of this situation. I also appreciate Coach Miller’s forthright statement to the press today.
As the governing body of Arizona’s public universities, ABOR is committed to doing everything possible to uphold the integrity of the institutions we oversee. This pledge extends to collegiate athletic programs, which must adhere to the high standards established by each university. Basketball is a beloved sport at the University of Arizona and throughout Arizona. The integrity of our institutions cannot be compromised.
As a Wildcat, the excellence of the University of Arizona, our student athletes and the success of future generations of students is deeply important to me. The board will remain in close contact with Dr. Robbins as this process continues.”