Acknowledging that NCAA investigators found some former Arizona men's basketball staffers displayed "serious lapses in judgment," the school announces on Dec. 29, 2020 that it has self-imposed a ban on the upcoming postseason.
The notable storylines about Sean Miller through 12 years as the Arizona Wildcats' head coach. Miller was let go by the university on April 7, 2021.
April 6, 2009: Sean Miller leaves Xavier to accept job at Arizona
The UA announces that it has hired Miller, the former coach at Xavier, after the two sides met in Albuquerque the day before.
Miller left Xavier after five seasons and taking the Musketeers to an Elite Eight in 2008 and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2009. Miller took over the program after long-time head coach Lute Olson retired after 25 years at the helm.
2009 recruiting class
The first batch of recruits Miller hauled into Tucson set the tone for Miller's tenure at the UA.
Miller's first commit was from Ukranian big man Kyryl Natyazhko. He was then followed by Kevin Parrom, Solomon Hill and Max Wiepking. The last two recruits of the class were former USC commits, point guard Lamont "Momo" Jones and power forward Derrick Williams.
Miller's last-minute 2009 class was ranked No. 2 the Pac-12, per 247Sports.com.
Nov. 15, 2009: Miller's first win
Junior power forward Jamelle Horne records a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while the backcourt in Kyle Fogg and Nic Wise combined for 25 points as the Wildcats top NAU 87-70 in McKale Center. The win is Miller's first at Arizona.
March 5, 2011: Miller's first Pac-12 title
The Wildcats defeat Oregon 90-82 to clinch the Pac-12 regular season title, the first under Miller and the first since 2005.
2011: Elite Eight
After winning Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Miller leads the Wildcats back to the big dance in 2011 after the Wildcats missed the tournament for the first time in 25 years.
The Cats won in comeback fashion against Texas in Round of 32 and took down No. 1 Duke in the Sweet 16. In the Elite Eight, the Wildcats fell short after running into National Player of the Year finalist Kemba Walker and the UConn Huskies.
The Wildcats lost Williams, Jones and Horne, but hauled in the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, highlighted by guards Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner. While Turner, dealt with off the court issues, Johnson flashed potential as a combo guard that could thrive under Miller.
The Wildcats finished third in the Pac-12 and finished the season 23-12, capped off with a 65-54 loss to Bucknell in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.
2013 Pac-12 Tournament: "He touched the ball"
During the 2012-13 Pac-12 Tournament, No. 18 Arizona lost to UCLA 66-64. In the game, UCLA's Jordan Adams strips a driving Mark Lyons, but Lyons maintains possession of the ball in which he tried to pass it to a Wildcat on the perimeter. The official called Lyons for double dribbling, and Miller told the him that "he touched the ball" claiming it was a bad call.
Miller got a technical foul and the Wildcats went on to lose in the Pac-12 Tournament. Miller showed his emotions in the postgame press conference.
Nov. 18, 2013: Miller earns 100th win
Arizona returned Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and brought in McDonald's All-Americans Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Miller aims for his 100th win as the Arizona head coach and after scoring 100 points and beating Fairleigh Dickinson by 50 points, Miller makes his mark on the program by getting his 100th win as Arizona's head coach.
“It feels good,” Miller said about the career milestone. “Better to celebrate that than not be at that number. Hopefully there’s many more this year and beyond.”
March 2, 2014: Arizona wins the Pac-12 regular season championship
On senior night, the Wildcats beat Stanford 79-66 to win the Pac-12 regular season championship, which is Miller's second title at Arizona. Miller then wins another conference coach of the year accolade.
March 14, 2015: Miller clinches first ever Pac-12 Tournament title
Miller had nearly everything off his Arizona head coaching checklist except for three things: Final Four, national championship and winning the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
Arizona routes the Ducks 80-52 in the Pac-12 Championship and Miller finally gets to cut down the nets in Vegas.
March 29, 2014: Arizona loses to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight
With Brandon Ashley gone for the year with a broken foot, Arizona struggles to defend Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky in the post. Kaminsky scores 28 points and grabs 11 rebounds and the Badgers topple the Cats in overtime.
Nick Johnson has a chance to win the game on the final possession, but doesn't the get shot off in time and the Cats fall in the Elite Eight, again.
As a result, University Blvd. turned into a riot scene.
March 28, 2015: Arizona loses to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight ... again
As a No. 2 seed and with Brandon Ashley back from injury, Arizona rematches the top-seeded Badgers, and while Frank "The Tank" Kaminsky isn't as a big of a factor on the boards as in 2014, he still manages to score 29 points. Except this time, Sam Dekker was there to back Kaminsky up.
Dekker drops 27 points on 5 of 6 shooting from 3-point range and although Arizona goes nearly 60 percent from the field during the game, Wisconsin shoots an impressive 67 percent from 3-point range and for the second straight season, the Badgers are in the Final Four, not Arizona. T.J. McConnell, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley would leave for the NBA Draft afterwards.
No riots this time around.
March 4, 2017: Arizona beats ASU, shares Pac-12 regular season title with Oregon
Arizona beats Arizona 73-60 in Tempe and sweeps the Sun Devils for the second straight season and clinches a share of the Pac-12 regular season championship with Oregon.
At this point, Miller has four Pac-12 titles in six years and wins another Pac-12 Coach of the Year award.
March 11, 2017: Outright Pac-12 champs
Oregon and Arizona were co-champions of the Pac-12 in the regular season. Now the two gets to face off in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship to determine the outright champions.
During the regular season, Arizona lost to Oregon 85-58 in Eugene so it's not going to a walk in the park for Arizona.
The Wildcats outlast Oregon 83-80 behind Allonzo Trier's 23-point performance and the junior guard is named the Pac-12 Tournament Most Valuable Player.
This is the second time Arizona won both the regular season and tournament championships.
March 23, 2017: Miller falls to his ex-team Xavier in tournament
It's 2017, the 20-year anniversary of Arizona's 1997 national championship, and the Final Four is two hours up the Interstate-10 in Phoenix. Former Wildcat Miles Simon was suspended half the season in 1997, while Allonzo Trier was suspended 19 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2017.
The stars aligned for the Wildcats to win a national title for the first time in two decades, right? Nope.
In the Sweet 16, Miller runs into his former team Xavier, but Lauri Markkanen doesn't have a shot attempt in the final 11 minutes of the game and the Musketeers upset Arizona 73-71.
Miller brings in monstrous recruiting class
Arizona returns Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic and Keanu Pinder for the 2018 season, all players that had significant roles on the 2017 Sweet 16 team.
Mixed that in with arguably the best recruiting class Miller has ever had and that's a recipe for a scary team. The 2017 class includes Ira Lee, Brandon Randolph, Alex Barcello and reclassified five-star 2018 prospect Emmanuel Akot. The bow of the class is No. 1 overall recruit Deandre Ayton, the 7-foot-1 Bahamian prodigy that played at Phoenix's Hillcrest Prep.
Ayton is the highest ranked recruit to play for Arizona and is projected as a lock top five pick for the 2018 NBA Draft. Ayton chose Arizona on Sept. 6, 2016, with hopes of taking Miller to his first ever Final Four.
Sept. 27, 2017: FBI scandal hits Arizona
Arizona assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson is arrested by the FBI on allegations of bribery after he allegedly asked for $20,000 from co-defendants Christian Dawkins and Munish Sood.
In June, Richardson's phone is wiretapped by the FBI and he discusses paying a recruit $5,000 to pay a recruit to attend Arizona.
Richardson is arrested in September, three weeks before Arizona's Red and Blue Game and is released after posting a $50,000 bond. Richardson faces up to 60 years in federal prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted of all charges.
Feb. 23, 2018: ESPN reports FBI wiretapped recordings of Miller discussing payment
On the eve of Arizona taking on Oregon in Eugene, ESPN's Mark Schlabach reports that the FBI has a wiretapped phone conversation between Miller and ASM Sports agency runner Christian Dawkins, in which the two allegedly discuss a $100,000 payment to land star recruit Deandre Ayton.
As a result, Miller doesn't coach the Wildcats in their overtime loss against Oregon, but Ayton's eligibility remains in tact for now. Ayton's family said they were "disgusted" by the report and that Ayton interviewed with the FBI, NCAA officials and investigators about not accepting money from Miller or the program.
Feb. 28, 2018: Arizona Board of Regents schedule meeting
The Arizona Board of Regents call for a meeting to discuss the route Arizona should take with Miller and the program.
March 10, 2018: Wildcats roar through Pac-12, Miller gets another title
After clinching the Pac-12 regular-season title in Miller's return from the ESPN fallout, Arizona wins three games in as many days in Las Vegas to win its second straight tournament championship and third in four years.
March 15, 2018: 13-seed Buffalo knocks out Arizona in first round
Buffalo blasts No. 4 seed Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Boise, Idaho. The 21-point loss is the fourth-worst deficit the program has suffered in tournament history, and a Miller-coached team is sent home after the first round for a second time in three seasons.
March 21, 2018: Miller says he isn't a candidate for vacant Pitt job
Miller is shown on the recruiting trail on March 17, perhaps suggesting his intent to return to the UA for the 2018-19 season. Arizona also expresses interest in Evansville grad transfer Ryan Taylor.
On March 20, a report from Pittsburgh says Miller had intermediaries tell Pitt he's interested in the head coaching job.
On March 21, Miller releases a statement saying he will not be the next head coach at Pitt, his alma mater.
“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy," Miller said in a statement. "I wish them well in their search for a new coach.”
April 6, 2018: AD supports Sean Miller after state regents add $1M penalty clause to contract
The Arizona Board of Regents approves amendments to the contract of UA coach Sean Miller that adds the threat of a $1 million penalty for wrongdoing and tighter Title IX language.
Miller stands to lose $1 million of his longevity fund shares if he is charged with a crime or found to have committed a Level I (major) NCAA violation.
Sept. 14, 2018: Five-star guard Nico Mannion commits to Arizona
The Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year Nico Mannion commits to Arizona in Sept. 2018, becoming the first recruit of the 2019-20 recruiting class. Mannion, a five-star guard out of Pinnacle High School (Phoenix), is the building block of the nation's sixth-ranked recruiting class.
It marks Miller's eighth recruiting class that ranked top 10 nationally.
The Wildcats also sign five-star guard Josh Green, four-star forward Zeke Nnaji and three-star center Christian Koloko in the class.
Mannion, Green and Nnaji became one-and-done players at Arizona and were all selected in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Jan. 26, 2019: Wildcats blown out by USC, UCLA as Pac-12 struggles define season
After losing much of the 2018-19 recruiting class to de-commitments, Miller rebuilds Arizona's roster on the fly. The 2018-19 Wildcats are led Brandon Williams who recommitted to UA after previously backing out of his original verbal commit.
Arizona starts out the season 14-5 and in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament berth. But the team sputters at the end of January losing back-to-back blowout games to USC and UCLA. UA loses 80-57 to the Trojans and 90-69 to the Bruins in Los Angeles.
It's the worst scoring margin over a two-game Pac-12 weekend that Miller has ever had as the Wildcats’ head coach.
“We got killed in both games,” Miller said after the UCLA loss.
The Cats then drop four more consecutive games, the first time in 35 years the program lost five or more games in a row. They finish the season 17-15 and 8-10 in the Pac-12, the first time in Miller's career the team did not go over .500 in conference play.
Feb. 9, 2019: AD Dave Heeke affirms his support for Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller after firing assistant coach
Arizona Wildcats assistant coach Mark Phelps gets fired by the university after ESPN reported that Phelps was involved in an NCAA issue regarding the academic records of former UA commit Shareef O’Neal.
UA athletic director Dave Heeke called an impromptu press conference during halftime of Arizona's home basketball game against Washington State on Feb. 9 to affirm he plans to keep Miller as the team's head coach.
“We’re fully supportive of the coaching staff, the leadership of the basketball program,” Heeke said. “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.”
April 19, 2019: Judge rules that Sean Miller does not have to testify in college basketball bribery case
New York judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that the Arizona Wildcats’ coach and LSU coach Will Wade do not have to testify in the federal trial involving corruption in college basketball, saying their alleged misdeeds are irrelevant to the felony bribery charges facing would-be agent Christian Dawkins and Adidas rep Merl Code.
Defense attorney Steve Haney cited a video presented Wednesday to jurors that featured Dawkins bragging about his relationship with Miller and former UA assistant coach Book Richardson.
In the video, secretly recorded aboard a yacht in June 2017, Dawkins, alleged co-conspirator Munish Sood, confidential informant Marty Blazer and undercover FBI agent Jeff DeAngelo discussed their plans to launch a network of schools and basketball coaches that they could control. Richardson’s name came up on the videotape, as did Miller’s.
Dawkins said on the videotape that he and Miller had been talking as recently as a week and a half ago, around the time Deandre Ayton — the future No. 1 pick in the NBA draft — had enrolled at the UA.
However, Ramos felt that "nothing had changed" and said Sean Miller is not compelled to take the stand in the case.
May 4, 2019: Arizona confirms NCAA investigation into men's basketball program 'is underway'
The Star reports on May 4, 2019 that University of Arizona men’s basketball program confirmed it is being investigated by the NCAA.
Less than a month after Book Richardson was arrested and the federal college basketball investigation became public in September 2017, the Star filed a public records request asking for any letter of inquiry or notice of investigation sent by the NCAA.
The UA responded on Feb. 6, 2019, saying there were no such records. It responded again, saying it would not release communication records with the NCAA because “investigations into the University of Arizona men’s basketball program are ongoing at this time.”
When asked to clarify if the reference to "investigations" included one from the NCAA, university spokesman Chris Sigurdson later said in an email on that "there is an NCAA investigation underway."
UA issued a statement refuting other reports published that might have implied the investigation was new.
"We will continue to cooperate fully with any NCAA proceedings in the best interest of the university and the men’s basketball program," UA said.
On May 9, University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins told KGUN that Sean Miller is “our coach,” when approached on the same day the federal trial into college basketball ended in New York.
Arizona in top 25 to begin 2019-20 season, Baker granted eligibility
In the AP preseason poll, the Wildcats are ranked 21st in the country, marking the first time since 2018 that the team has been nationally ranked.
UA is also picked to finished fourth in the Pac-12 preseason poll.
A week before the season opener, Kentucky transfer Jemarl Baker is granted immediate eligibility for the 2019-20 season, boosting UA's outlook for the season to go along with a top 10 recruiting class.
Baker, a 6-foot-4-inch guard from Southern California, initially was expected to sit out the season He decided to appeal based on injuries and other issues in Lexington.
The addition of Baker helps Arizona fill in its depth issues after sophomore guard Brandon Williams was lost for the season due to a knee injury before the start of the year.
Nov. 10, 2019: Sean Miller calls UA's freshmen class 'one of the best' he's had
Freshmen Nico Mannion, Josh Green and forward Zeke Nnaji combined for 62 of Arizona's 90 points in a 21-point home win over Illinois.
He said it:
“We have a good group. We played together, played (with) great effort. have a lot of talent on offense, not just guys that can just score around the rim but playmakers, three-point shooters, guys who come in off the bench that are able to do it. And you feel that when we get out in transition and move the ball, a lot of good things happen." — UA coach Sean Miller
The performance of the freshmen led Miller to believe it is possibly his best class at Arizona.
"It’s certainly one of the best if not the best," he said.
Dec. 15, 2019: Sean Miller has a lot on his mind following Arizona Wildcats' narrow loss to Gonzaga
No. 15 Arizona made just 8 of 30 3-pointers and shot under 40% as a team against No. 6 Gonzaga as the Wildcats lost at home to 84-80.
Miller had a 17-minute press conference after the game detailing why Arizona was unable to win.
Part of the team's shooting woes, Miller explained, was that Gonzaga mixed in a zone defense which frustrated UA's freshmen.
“When you change defenses right now against us, we’re inexperienced against that,” Miller said. “We’ve just got to really take our time.
March 12, 2020: NCAA basketball season cut short due to pandemic
Despite an underwhelming 2019-20 season where the Wildcats came in fifth place in the Pac-12 conference with a 21-11 record, Arizona appeared to be peaking in March.
In the first round of Pac-12 tournament on March 11, the Cats beat Washington 77-70 behind Josh Green's 19 points to set up a match with USC in the quarterfinals.
Miller called it "one of our season’s best performances."
On March 12, the coronavirus is declared a pandemic in the United States and both the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments were canceled, effectively ending Arizona's season.
At the time, UA hovered between a 6 or 7 seed had there been an NCAA tournament.
In an interview with UA play-by-play announcer Brian Jeffries in May 2020, Miller warns against calling the team's season a failure.
“We were in this year’s NCAA Tournament,” Miller said. “And we also had the makings, because of our youth, and because of being able to play a brand of basketball in March that I believe could have allowed us to win in a tournament setting, that the best could have been right around the corner for us.”
Oct. 25, 2020: Arizona, Miller receive NCAA's Notice of Allegations
Arizona is charged with nine rules violations in the NCAA's Notice of Allegations, five of which are level one violations in a report from The Athletic.
Miller is charged with a Level One violation for a lack of head coach control and failing to monitor two assistant coaches accused of academic misconduct and improper recruiting inducements.
UA administration confirmed to the Star that it received the NOA but said it would not release the notice "in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing enforcement process."
Dec. 29, 2020: Arizona self-imposes postseason ban for 2021 Pac-12, NCAA tournaments
In a penalty that could be accepted or added to by the NCAA's Independent Accountability Resolution Process in future months, the Wildcats removed themselves for eligibility for the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
“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 in a statement. "Our team will remain united and aggressively compete to win a Pac-12 championship.”
Feb. 18 2021: Wildcats lose to UCLA for fifth straight time
Arizona is outscored 44-29 in the second half by UCLA at Pauley Pavilion as the Wildcats dropped their fifth game in a row to the Bruins.
March 1, 2021: Arizona ends 2020-21 season with loss to Ducks
In Arizona's season finale, the Wildcats lose 80-69 on the road to Oregon, marking the seventh straight time Miller and Co. have been defeated by the Ducks.
UA finishes the year 17-9 overall and 11-9 in the Pac-12.
After the game, Miller said he was pleased with the team's overall finish despite not having postseason incentives to play for.
"I’ll just share with you what I said to our team after the game: This is the 17th team that I’ve had as a head coach, and I’ve never been prouder of a group of guys than I am of this year’s team," Miller said.
Another storyline from the game is the UA coach's contract situation which is set run out after the 2021-22 season. Miller downplayed the situation in his postgame comments.
"I don’t expect anything," Miller said. "I know that now that this season’s over I’m going to have the opportunity to talk to Dr. Robbins and Dave Heeke, and I look forward to having that opportunity to do that. When that time happens, I think that I’ll certainly know a lot more."
March 8, 2021: Arizona president Robert C. Robbins says Miller 'is our coach'
A week after Arizona's season ends, UA president Robert C. Robbins says at his weekly news conference that he expects Miller back for the 2021-2022 season.
"He’s out there recruiting," Robbins says of Miller. "I think signing day is coming up soon. We’ve got a really good team. They’re young, but good. And we’re eager to move forward and get the final chapter of this now-almost four-year saga over. But Coach Miller is our coach."
April 7, 2021: Arizona, Miller part ways
The University of Arizona announces it is parting ways with Miller after 12 years.
President Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke met with Miller this week and informed him of the decision.
"We feel like it's the appropriate time to make a change," Heeke said. "So that we can restore and begin to rebuild the overall high-caliber status of this world-class basketball program."
Miller ends his coaching career at Arizona with a 302-109 record (.735), three Pac-12 Tournament championships, five conference championships and no Final Four appearances.
Oct. 3, 2017: Miller releases statement amid FBI investigation
After nearly a week of silence, Miller releases a statement saying he's "devastated" over the allegations against Richardson.
Here's the full statement:
“I was devastated to learn last week of the allegations made against Emanuel Richardson," he said. I have expressed to both Dr. Robbins and our Athletic Director Dave Heeke that I fully support the university’s efforts to fully investigate these allegations.
"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 8 years and will continue to do so as we move forward.”
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