Sean Miller rebukes ESPN, says he'll continue to coach Arizona

In a statement he read Thursday, embattled Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller assailed an ESPN report from last week alleging that a federal wiretap caught him discussing paying star recruit Deandre Ayton $100,000 to attend Arizona, and said he intends to coach the Wildcats going forward.

However, Miller’s status was not publicly clear pending a meeting later Thursday of the Arizona Board of Regents. The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. Miller is believed to have the support of Arizona president Robert Robbins to at least coach the remainder of the season, sources told Yahoo Sports, pending other developments in the federal investigation of corruption in college basketball.

Miller read a prepared statement that said in part, “I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program.” Miller said he has never paid a player or directed payment to a player. Miller called reports that he told ASM Sports Agency employee Christian Dawkins about payments for Ayton “inaccurate, false and defamatory.” ESPN has since issued corrections in regards to the report.

Miller acknowledged that he had one conversation with someone soliciting money in exchange for a player attending Arizona, but did not disclose the identity of the player, the person he spoke with or the time frame for that discussion.

“I did not agree to it,” Miller said. “It never happened and that player did not come to the University of Arizona.”

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Sean Miller throughout his coaching career
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Sean Miller throughout his coaching career
LEXINGTON, KY - MARCH 15: Sean Miller head coach of the Xavier Musketeers yells out from the sideline against the Brigham Young Cougars during the first round of the NCAA basketball tourney at Rupp Arena on March 15, 2007 in Lexington, Kentucky. The Musketeers won 79-77. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 22: Head coach Sean Miller of Xavier Musketeers yells at C.J. Anderson #20 during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at the Cintas Center December 22, 2007 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
PHOENIX - MARCH 29: Stanley Burrell #34 of the Xavier Musketeers is hugged by head coach Sean Miller as he leaves the game in final minute of the West Regional Final for the last time as a Muskateer at the U.S. Airways Center on March 29, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Bruins won the game 76-57. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Xavier Musketeers head coach Sean Miller directs his team during the first half of their NCAA men's West Regional basketball game against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Phoenix March 27, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
Xavier Musketeers coach Sean Miller yells from the sidelines as his team plays the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first half of their NCAA men's East Regional basketball game in Boston, March 26, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)
Arizona head coach Sean Miller tosses a ball to one of his players as the Wildcats take the court at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, Wednesday, March 23, 2011. The Wildcats will face the Duke Blue Devils in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats talks with (L-R) Grant Jerrett #33, Nick Johnson #13 and Brandon Ashley #21 during a break from the college basketball game against the Long Beach State 49ers at McKale Center on November 19, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the 49ers 94-72. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 21: Nick Johnson #13 talks with head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats in the second half against the Belmont Bruins during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at EnergySolutions Arena on March 21, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 06: Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after a basket against the Oregon Ducks during the second half of a college basketball game at McKale Center on February 6, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Ducks 67-65. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 13: Head coach Sean Miller and injured player player Brandon Ashley of the Arizona Wildcats watch Rondae Hollis-Jefferson #23 of Arizona guard Brandon Taylor #11 of the Utah Utes during a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 13, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Arizona won 71-39. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 27: Coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats speaks during a press conference after the fourth round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Honda Center on March 27, 2014 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Paul Dye/J and L Photography/Getty Images )
14 March 2015: Arizona head coach Sean Miller looks in awe after receiving the PAC 12 Tournament trophy during the PAC 12 Men's Basketball Tournament championship game between the Oregon Ducks and the Arizona Wildcats at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
March 26, 2015: Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller and Arizona Wildcats forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (23) during the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship Sweet Sixteen round game between the Xavier Musketeers and the Arizona Wildcats at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
Dec 19, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller signals during the first half against the UNLV Rebels at McKale Center. Arizona won 82-70. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Basketball NCAA) *** Local Caption *** 2015-12-20T055319Z_434172211_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NCAA-BASKETBALL-UNLV-AT-ARIZONA.JPG
March 18, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller reacts to officials during game action against the Saint Mary's Gaels during the second half in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
March 18, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Arizona Wildcats Arizona Wildcats guard Kadeem Allen (5) and head coach Sean Miller react during the 69-60 victory against the Saint Mary's Gaels second half in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Miller also indicated that he intends on coaching Arizona Thursday night against Stanford, and beyond.

“I look forward to coaching this outstanding team,” he said.

Miller did not answer questions after reading his statement.

Miller did not coach Arizona’s game last Saturday at Oregon after media reports last week further implicated him and his staff in the federal probe. Yahoo Sports reported Friday that documents linked Dawkins with Arizona assistants Joe Pasternack and Emanuel “Book” Richardson in alleged attempts to broker deals for players. Dawkins emails alleged that Pasternack and Richardson could be conduits for Arizona players to become ASM clients — particularly 2016-17 player Lauri Markkanen and current player Rawle Alkins. In exchange, Dawkins’ emails say he could direct five-star recruit Brian Bowen to Arizona.

Richardson was fired last month by Arizona. He had been arrested in September and hit with bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges in the U.S. Attorney’s basketball probe.

The Wildcats (22-7 on the year, a Pac-12-leading 12-4 in conference play) host Stanford Thursday night and then close the regular season Saturday against California.

The 7-foot-1 Ayton, widely projected as a top-five pick in this year’s NBA draft, leads Arizona in scoring (19.9 points per game), rebounding (11.2) and blocked shots (2.0).

The Wildcats are without No. 2 scorer Allonzo Trier, who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug for the second time in his college career and was suspended by the NCAA this week. Arizona is appealing the ruling, arguing that the presence of the steroid Ostarine in Trier’s urine sample was simply a residual trace from when he originally and unwittingly ingested it in 2016. Drug-testing experts have questioned that explanation for Trier’s positive test.

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Top college basketball programs
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Top college basketball programs

50. USC

Points: 174

(Photo by Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

49. DePaul

Points: 186

(Photo by Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

48. San Francisco

Points: 191

(Photo by James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)

47. LSU

Points: 198

(Photo by Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

46. Vanderbilt

Points: 204

(Photo via REUTERS/Eric Draper)

45. Georgia Tech

Points: 213

(Photo by Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)

44. Kansas State

Points: 224

(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

5. Kansas

Points: 857

(Photo by Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

43. Minnesota

Points: 226

(Photo by Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports)

42. West Virginia

Points: 229

(Photo by Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

41. Gonzaga

Points: 230

(Photo by Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

40. Stanford

Points: 232

(Photo by Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

39. Utah

Points: 239

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39. Tennessee

Points: 243

(Photo by Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

37. Wisconsin

Points: 250

(Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

36. Texas

Points: 255

(Photo via REUTERS/Bill Waugh)

35. Pittsburgh

Points: 264

(Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

34. Oklahoma State

Points: 271

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

20. Oklahoma

Points: 371

(Photo by Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

33. Wake Forest

Points: 281

(Photo by Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

32. Virginia

Points: 283

(Photo by Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

31. Arkansas

Points: 289

(Photo by Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)

30. Alabama

Points: 297

(Photo by Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

29. Missouri

Points: 300

(Photo by Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

T-27. Florida

Points: 306

(Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

T-27. St. John's

Points: 306

(Photo by Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

26. Memphis

Points: 307

(Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

25. UNLV

Points: 321

(Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports)

24. Purdue

Points: 339

(Photo by Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

23. Iowa

Points: 343

(Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

T-21. North Carolina State

Points: 366

 (Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

T-21. Marquette

Points: 366

(Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

19. Villanova

Points: 372

(Photo by Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

18. Notre Dame

Points: 382

(Photo by Jerome Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

17. Maryland

Points: 400

(Photo by James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)

16. Connecticut

Points: 402

(Photo by David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

15. Georgetown

Points: 421

(Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

14. Michigan

Points: 423

(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

13. Michigan State

Points: 434

(Photo by Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports)

12. Ohio State

Points: 453

(Photo by Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

11. Illinois

Points: 479

(Photo viaREUTERS/Mike Stone)

10. Cincinnati

Points: 500

(Photo by Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

9. Syracuse

Points: 581

(Photo by David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

8. Arizona

Points: 594

(Photo by Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

7. Louisville

Points: 627

(Photo by Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports)

6. Indiana

Points: 662

(Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

4. UCLA

Points: 957

(Photo by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

3. Duke

Points: 1,032

(Photo by Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

2. North Carolina

Points: 1,098

(Photo by Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)

1. Kentucky

Points: 1,111

(Photo by Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports)

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