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After the NCAA sent a notice of allegations to the Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball program in October, the athletics department announced Tuesday it was self-imposing a one-year postseason ban.
“The decision is an acknowledgement that the NCAA’s investigation revealed that certain former members of the MBB staff displayed serious lapses in judgment and a departure from the University’s expectation of honest and ethical behavior,” the school said in a release. “It is also in accord with the penalty guidelines of the NCAA for the type of violations involved. The decision also reinforces the institution’s commitment to accountability and integrity as well as serving the best long-term interests of the University and the Men’s Basketball program.”
Dave Heeke, Arizona’s athletic director, said the decision to self-impose the penalty “was extremely difficult” and that the school would “continue to cooperate fully” with the NCAA.
The school received the notice of allegations Oct. 23, stemming from a federal investigation about recruiting practices in 2017.
The Associated Press reported that the notice alleged nine counts of misconduct, including five Level I violations. The violations include a lack of institutional control and failure to monitor by the university, and lack of head coach control by basketball coach Sean Miller.
In 2017, former assistant coach Emanuel Richardson was one of 10 people arrested related to a federal investigation on corruption in college basketball.
Arizona fired Richardson and he later pleaded guilty for accepting $20,000 worth of bribes from Christian Dawkins, an aspiring business manager. In 2019, Richardson was sentenced to a three-month prison term.
Miller was then involved in two federal trials after the FBI investigation. In October, Miller declined to comment on the notice of allegations.
“I understand and fully support the University’s decision to self-impose a one-year postseason ban on our Men’s Basketball program,” Miller said Tuesday in a statement. “Our team will remain united and aggressively compete to win a PAC-12 championship.”
In a May 2019 trial, federal prosecutors played a taped phone call, intercepted by wiretaps, before a jury, in which Richardson was heard telling Dawkins that Miller was paying eventual No. 1 NBA draft pick Deandre Ayton $10,000 a month to play for the Wildcats.
News of the taped phone call was first reported by ESPN in 2018. Miller sat out one game in the 2018 season because of the report, which Miller denied. University president Robert C. Robbins announced a few days later that Miller would remain the Wildcats’ coach.
Arizona is 7-1 this season and 1-1 in conference play.
Last month, Auburn’s men’s basketball program also self-imposed a postseason ban stemming from the same federal investigation in 2017.