Sean Miller: 'Emotional' standing ovation 'something I'll never forget'
Arizona's coach returned to an ovation and led the Wildcats to a win over Stanford
Sean Miller looked far more exhausted and less defiant when he addressed the media following Arizona's 75-67 win against Stanford. It had been a busy day at Arizona, with Miller of his involvement in a pay-for-play scheme involving Deandre Ayton, or any other player in the early afternoon and just hours before the game.
With at least a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title locked up, Miller appeared relieved to be back in the routine of a game night even if there was nothing routine about the evening.
Prior to the game, Miller was greeted by the Arizona fans with a standing ovation. He told reporters after the game the moment was something he'd "never, ever forget."
Sean Miller received a standing ovation from Arizona fans before his first game since reports tying him to an alleged pay-for-play scheme. pic.twitter.com/sI5rNShjck— ESPN (@espn) March 2, 2018
"Tonight was a very emotional night, but it was about our team and what we accomplished," Miller said. "Winning a Pac-12 championship is always a goal of ours, but it's not always realized. For us to clinch at least a tie is very satisfying, and now go for an outright championship on Saturday."
Miller declined to answer any questions regarding the report of his ties to the FBI investigation into college basketball or the specifics surrounding his time away from the team and current status with the Arizona administration. He thanked the school's president and athletic director for their support and stood by his statement from earlier on Thursday.
"Let me be very, very clear: I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona," Miller said prior to the game. "In fact, I never even met or spoke to Christian Dawkins until after Deandre publicly announced that he was coming to our school. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory. I'm outraged by the media statements that have been made and the acceptance by many that these statements were true. There was no such conversation."
Arizona president Robert Robbins and school AD Dave Heekesupporting Miller's continued employment as acting Arizona coach.
"Earlier this week, we met with Coach Miller at length and asked him direct and pointed questions," their statement reads. "He was eager to speak with us and answered every question we asked. At this time we have no reason to believe that Coach Miller violated NCAA rules or any laws regarding the allegation reported in the media. Additionally, he has a record of compliance with NCAA rules, and he has been cooperative with this process.
"While some might be tempted to rush to judgment when there is intense public pressure, due process is the bedrock of fair treatment and acting with integrity," the statement continues. "With that in mind, we will continue to pursue every avenue of inquiry available to us during an active federal investigation to fully understand the facts. We recognize that investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to be respectful and cooperative through its conclusion. Steptoe & Johnson continues its investigation into our athletics compliance, and we will carefully review and act on its conclusions. We anticipate this report will be thorough and based on facts."
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