The University of Arizona announced that it had fired head men’s basketball coach Sean Miller on Wednesday.
"After taking the many factors involved into account, we simply believe that we need a fresh start and now is the time,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement. “I want to thank Sean, Amy and their sons for their service to the university and wish them the very best in the future."
The program has been embroiled in the college basketball corruption investigation which began in 2017. As ESPN reports, former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson pleaded guilty a felony after being accused of accepting bribes to steer players toward aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins once becoming professionals. Evidence prosecutors presented during Dawkins’ trial included an FBI wiretap recording of a call in which Richardson tells Dawkins that Miller had been paying $10,000 for former Wildcat Deandre Ayton. Miller, however, denies having ever paid players.
The NCAA has charged Arizona with five Level I violations, the most serious level of infraction. Miller himself was charged for failure to demonstrate “that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance and monitored his staff.”
Arizona self-imposed a one-year postseason ban this past season due to the NCAA charges.
According to ESPN, the school had been considering a contract extension for Miller — but the board of regents would be unlikely to approve it due to ongoing issues with the NCAA.
"After conferring with Dave Heeke since the season's end, it has become clear that our men's basketball program — and our University — needs to write a new chapter in our history, and that begins with a change of leadership," university president Robert C. Robbins said in a statement. "Arizona Basketball means so much to so many and, as stewards of the program, we must always act in the best interests of the university. I believe our future is bright, and I look forward to welcoming a new head coach to the Wildcat family."
The school will conduct a national search for a new head coach. In the meantime, associate head coach Jack Murphy will fill in as interim head coach.