This morning, a friend said to me that Arizona got a break with the new FBI college recruiting scandal as it took the Alonzo Trier PED story off the front page. This evening, things got infinitely worse for Arizona as the lead story on ESPN right now is:
FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone conversations between Arizona coach Sean Miller and Christian Dawkins, a key figure in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption, in which Miller discussed paying $100,000 to ensure star freshman Deandre Ayton signed with the Wildcats, sources familiar with the government’s evidence told ESPN.
As of this writing, Arizona has not responded formally. Our sister SBN site Arizona Desert Swarm writes this:
Ever since Book Richardson was arrested for bribery and fraud in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption, one question emerged: did Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller know about his assistant coach’s wrongdoing?
Well, it looks like the answer to that question is yes. And that Miller had a prominent role in UA’s improper recruiting conduct.
Like I have written previously, there is no way Miller did not know what his assistant coach was doing. Yet, Arizona had an internal investigation clearing Miller. If these stories are true, Arizona is in huge trouble.
Just my quick off the top of my head thoughts.
1. Sean Miller is out as coach. Lorenzo Romar would take over. Romar is a legendary recruiter but one of the worst coaches in Pac-12 history, having flamed out last year with the number one draft pick and a losing record at the University of Washington.
2. Arizona has lost its top two players. First, I don’t think anyone, even at Arizona, now cares about getting Alonzo Trier back. Moreover, I don’t think anyone believes for a second the Arizona PED story that it was a leftover trace from last year. Arizona’s track record on the truth is not good right now.
3. I don’t think you can play a guy you got caught paying $100,000 for. This means DeAndre Ayton is out for the season as well.
4. I would guess Arizona imposes sanctions of some sort on itself. I don’t even know the logistics of NOT playing in the Pac-12 tournament but I would not be surprised if they self impose a “No NCAA tournament This Year” sanction pretty quick.
5. What will the NCAA or Pac-12 do? The NCAA works slow. But it is hard to think the NCAA lets a school with a player being paid a $100k play in the tournament.
What does this all mean for UCLA?
1. If UCLA wins its last two games and the Southern Cal game is likely easier with Metu suspended, I think Aaron Holiday is a lock for Pac-12 Player of the Year. There is no way he was the favorite before today. Deandre Ayton would have gotten it.
2. Can Southern Cal or Arizona represent the Pac-12 in the NCAA Tournament? I doubt it. So, how does that work at the Pac-12 Tournament? Are they allowed to play?
3. The other shoe may drop in some fashion. Joe has been writing for a while UCLA still not implicated kind of headlines. There are a lot of people that think all college basketball is dirty. A great example is what happened with Utah. Utah’s star player last year Kyle Kuzma was allegedly paid (although not by Utah). Utah was supposed to have a clean program.
4. WIll UCLA’s “clean status” save Alford’s job? It shouldn’t. But who knows. It may indirectly save his job by allowing UCLA to win the Pac-12 title, albeit, with an asterisk.
5. That said, maybe I am an optimist. I don’t think Steve Alford was arranging $100k payments. Is UCLA “totally clean”? Who knows? But, Arizona and Sean Miller are very dirty.