-- Sean Miller will not coach Arizona's game Saturday against Oregon in the wake of an ESPN report that detailed his involvement in a discussion to pay a potential recruit.
Arizona released a statement saying that Miller and the school agreed to the decision, citing the "best interests of the University and the basketball program." Associate head coach Lorenzo Romar will replace Miller on Saturday.
ESPN reported Friday that FBI wiretaps intercepted phone conversations between Miller and Christian Dawkins, an employee for ASM Sports agent Andy Miller. According to sources familiar with the government's evidence, Miller and Dawkins discussed paying $100,000 to ensure that star freshman Deandre Ayton would sign with the Wildcats.
Arizona announced that Ayton is eligible to play against Oregon. Miller echoed the school's sentiment while saying he is "confident that I will be vindicated" in a statement.
"I believe it is in the best interest of our team that I not coach the game tonight," Miller said in the statement. "I continue to fully support the University's efforts to fully investigate this matter and am confident that I will be vindicated. For now, my thoughts are with our team. They are a great group of young men that will support each other and continue their pursuit of winning a Pac-12 championship."
Prior to Saturday's game, a lawyer representing Ayton's family released a statement saying they were "outraged and disgusted by recent news stories which have falsely implied" them.
"[Ayton] directly stated to the FBI, more than six months ago, that he never discussed or solicited payments from the University of Arizona, or any other university, or any shoe company or anyone on behalf of either -- Period. This includes basketball and anything else," the statement said.
When asked earlier Saturday about ESPN's report on Arizona, NCAA president Mark Emmert said it's up to the school to decide whether to hold out Miller or Ayton.
"First and foremost, that's a decision the school has to make," Emmert said in an interview on CBS.
Emmert noted that no NCAA process has been initiated into Arizona.
Asked whether the NCAA has been in touch with Arizona, Emmert said, "We've been in touch with every school that has a student-athlete involved [in the FBI investigation into the sport]."
Miller and Dawkins had multiple conversations about Ayton, sources told ESPN. When Dawkins asked Miller if he should work with assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson to finalize their agreement, Miller told Dawkins he should deal directly with him when it came to money, the sources said.
The telephone calls between Miller and Dawkins were among 3,000 hours of conversations intercepted from Dawkins' phone by the FBI.
Ayton, a 7-foot-1 center who was born in the Bahamas, is considered one of the top freshmen in the country and a leading candidate for national player of the year honors. He is averaging 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds in what is expected to be his only college season.
Richardson, who worked for Miller the previous 10 seasons at Xavier and Arizona, was one of four assistant coaches arrested by FBI agents on Sept. 27 after a two-year investigation into bribes and other corruption in the sport.
Richardson is accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes and paying a recruit to sign with the Wildcats. In exchange for the money, the government alleges, Richardson agreed to influence Arizona players to sign with Dawkins and financial adviser Munish Sood, who also was arrested by FBI agents. Arizona formally fired Richardson on Jan. 11.