While meeting with reporters briefly after Thursday’s Arizona basketball news conference, Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke threw firm support behind coach Sean Miller.
“Sean always runs a program of high integrity and honesty and we’re always supportive of that,” Heeke said.
When asked if that statement suggested he found Miller not guilty of wrongdoing during any preliminary investigation within the school, Heeke repeated those words.
Heeke later added: “This program always been one of high integrity, solid structure. We’ve done things the right way and it's important to support this program and these coaches. We have always been a program about doing things the right way and we will continue to be a program about doing it the right way.”
However, Heeke said the federal investigation that will likely lead to an NCAA investigation is a “serious issue, no question” and said that now “I don’t have a lot of information. There’s a lot of unanswered questions.”
Heeke said he didn’t know If players could be ruled ineligible or whether the team will face sanctions. When asked if it was possible the school might issue self-sanctions in the event violations are proven during the process ahead, Heeke said he didn’t think it was “appropriate to speculate.”
Heeke said the UA proactively reached out to the NCAA to discuss the situation.
"And they're as well surprised and looking for some direction themselves," Heeke said. "So yes we've been in touch with them."
Miller did not veer off his statement that he was “devastated” after assistant coach Book Richardson was arrested last week on federal bribery and fraud charges. Miller was flanked by two players during Thursday's news conference.
The UA said only questions involving basketball would be answered, and Miller stuck to that script. I asked if he moved forward this season thinking there might be sanctions or eligibility issues ahead, but Miller responded only by saying he was looking forward to the season.
"We're trying to bring the most successful season we can," he said in his opening remarks.
Miller said Austin Carroll, assistant director of operations, has been able to be on the floor with Richardson having been been suspended with pay. But Miller said he wasn’t sure yet if he would eventually seek to hire another staffer.
Miller also said he wasn’t sure if UA would still sign two or three recruits during the November signing period or if he might have to wait until the spring to get most of his players.
"I'm not sure about that," he said.
UA has commitments from guards Jahvon Quinerly and Brandon Williams, plus forward Shareef O’Neal, but Quinerly was named in the federal complaint when a sports agent referred to him as having taken $15,000 from an agent through Richardson.