The FBI intercepted multiple phone conversations in which Arizona coach Sean Miller discussed a $100,000 payment to secure the commitment of star freshman DeAndre Ayton, according to ESPN's Mark Schlabach.
Miller allegedly had multiple conversations with Christian Dawkins about Ayton, a projected top-five pick who is a contender for national player of the year. Dawkins used to work for former NBA agent Andy Miller at ASM Sports, and he was arrested in the fall for his role in facilitating improper bribes and benefits to college recruits.
After news broke that Miller would not coach Arizona in the team's game against Oregon on Saturday night, Miller released the following statement.
"I believe it is in the best interest of our team that I not coach the game tonight. I continue to fully support the University's efforts to fully investigate this matter and am confident that I will be vindicated. For now, my thoughts are with our team. They are a great group of young ment hat will support each other and continue their pursuit of winning a Pac-12 championship."
According to Schlabach, Dawkins asked Miller if he should go through former Arizona assistant Emanuel "Book" Richardson to finalize the payment, but Miller told Dawkins to go directly through him.
Richardson was one of four Division I assistant to be arrested by FBI agents after the agency's multi-year investigation into rampant corruption and bribery in recruiting.
After Richardson's arrest and Arizona's implication in the FBI's first wave of findings, Miller put out the following statement:
"As the head basketball coach at the University of Arizona, I recognize my responsibility is not only to establish a culture of success on the basketball court and in the classroom, but 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."
Ayton is Arizona's leading scorer with 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds for Arizona, which is in first place in the Pac-12. A Bahamas native who moved to the U.S. to play high school basketball, Ayton was the number four overall recruit in the class of 2017, per 247 sports.
SI.com's Jeremy Woo projects Ayton to be the top pick in his latest mock draft.
The report comes one day after Arizona's second leading scorer, Allonzo Trier, was ruled ineligible effective immediately for failing a second peformance-enhancing drug test. The university has said it will appeal that decision.
Arizona plays at Oregon on Saturday night.