By BRENNAN PRUSAK
While few people were taking the NCAA’s side after the results of the recent FBI probe were released, many could agree on one point; Arizona paying $100,000 to five-star phenom Deandre Ayton to attend the university was certainly crossing a line.
However, new reports are surfacing that lead many to believe that ESPN could have inaccurately reported the details of a wiretapped phone call involving Arizona’s head coach Sean Miller.
ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach originally reported that Arizona’s head basketball coach was overheard talking to Christian Dawkins on an FBI wiretap about a $100,000 payment for Deandre Ayton. This sent the news media and fans into a buzz, as paying six digits for an athlete was unheard of before the report.
The news could result in Ayton losing eligibility, along with Miller losing his job as Arizona’s head coach.
While this was shocking at first, a major hole in the story was evident. According to McCann, “relevant FBI wiretaps in the investigation did not begin until 2017—months after five-star recruit Deandre Ayton had already committed to Arizona in Sept. 2016.”
So, why would Arizona be attempting to pay a player to come to their school when he had already made the decision to do so? 247Sports first reported that the wiretapped calls referenced by ESPN were made between June 19 and Sept. 25 of last year, and not during Ayton’s recruitment.
Along with this fairly new information pointing out the flaws in ESPN’s report, why wouldn’t the FBI have indicted Miller if it had a tape of him speaking with Dawkins? It doesn’t line up.
“I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona,” said Miller. “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.”
After dropping such a bombshell on College Basketball, it seems like the corruption case is becoming weaker and weaker as time goes on. Not only did the NCAA not have much support from its fans and former players, but now it appears as if its reported information doesn’t even line up with the claims. It will be interesting to see how this ongoing story concludes in the coming months.