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Sean Miller in hot water as NCAA investigation begins

Things aren’t looking great in Tucson.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of an already tough season for Arizona’s basketball team, the future of the program is now clouded with a formal NCAA inquiry of head coach Sean Miller.

Sources connected to Yahoo Sports have confirmed that Arizona is one of the schools tied to the basketball recruitment scandal where a federal investigation has begun.

The issues stem from Arizona’s connection to Christian Dawkins, a former low-level runner for sports agent Andy Miller. Dawkins has already been found guilty in the first federal basketball corruption trial. Along with the links between Dawkins and the Arizona basketball program, there is also the recent felony plea deal of former Arizona assistant coach, Emanuel “Book” Richardson.

While almost a dozen schools are expected to face scrutiny from the NCAA, Arizona and Miller appear to be the ones in the most precarious situation of them all. It’s likely that Sean Miller will be subpoenaed in the upcoming Dawkins trial, setting up a scenario where possible inconsistencies between Miller’s previous statements and what is said in court could be exposed.

Miller has adamantly denied all the allegations from the beginning, claiming he has never paid a player and never will. But with evidence of monetary offers to former players by former assistant coaches already out, it may be hard for Miller to defend his innocence.

To further complicate matters, the NCAA recently introduced stricter sanction policies to programs found guilty of recruiting violations. Those include longer postseason bans, longer head coach suspensions, and longer employment limitations for coaches and staff. For this situation, it may be easier for Arizona to cut ties with coach Sean Miller, rather than face the potential harsh penalties brought down by the NCAA.

Arizona currently has the No. 1 recruiting class for next season. If Miller were to be terminated, or NCAA penalties introduced, it could reopen the recruitment for some of the top recruits currently committed to Arizona.

Josh Green, Nico Mannion, and Zeke Nnaji were all recruited by Kentucky, but are committed to Arizona. Depending on the investigation’s outcome, there’s potential for all of them to reopen their recruitments.

While it may take some time before the federal investigation is fully resolved, it appears Miller’s fate may be determined sometime this spring or early summer.