Arizona AD throws support behind basketball coach Sean Miller amid potential NCAA inquiry
Dave Heeke is standing by his man despite some tough times in Tucson
Amid recent reports that Arizona's basketball program has become the target of an official NCAA inquiry related to the ongoing college hoops corruption case, its athletic director, Dave Heeke, put rumors to bed Saturday that coach Sean Miller's job is in jeopardy.
Heeke offered his full support of Miller at halftime of Arizona's 69-55 loss to Washington State, and pushed back on the idea that the Wildcats' recent firing of assistant coach Mark Phelps was part of a grander scheme to eventually part ways with him.
"We're fully supportive of the coaching staff, the leadership of the basketball program," Heeke said via ESPN. "We're supporting, as I have said before, we support Coach Miller. Those things that have been said to the contrary to that are not true."
Phelps' ouster took place this week after the school initiated his firing, and the board of regents approved his dismissal. His attorney said he was removed because of an alleged NCAA rules violation; reports from ESPN suggest violations are linked to his helping of former Arizona recruit Shareef O'Neal and his academic transcripts. O'Neal is now a student-athlete at UCLA.
There have been two individuals directly linked to the Arizona basketball program that have been in the crosshairs of the federal corruption investigation: Long-time assistant Book Richardson and ex-runner Christian Dawkins. Richardson recently reached a plea deal with authorities in the case, however Dawkins intends to go to trial this spring.
Miller has kept his job amid heightened scrutiny related to the case, and has even thrived. Arizona has the No. 1 recruiting class in the 2019 cycle both in the Pac-12 and in the country. But with Dawkins' case going to a second trial -- and with wiretaps between he and Miller potentially waiting to be exposed in court -- Arizona brass and Miller might be feeling the heat not only on the court, where UA has lost five-straight, but off it.
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