As a freshman playing for Loyola Marymount at McKale Center on Dec. 4, 1984, Steve Haney dropped 20 points on Steve Kerr and the Wildcats in Arizona’s 82-75 win.
“It was one of my fondest memories as a player,” said Haney, who finished his college career at San Jose State.
Coincidentally, some 34 years later, Haney was pitted against Arizona again, in a sense: He was the attorney representing Christian Dawkins in the recently concluded federal bribery trial.
The trial didn't involve any Arizona representatives but UA coach Sean Miller and former assistant coach Book Richardson were mentioned often in the proceedings.
While representing Dawkins, Haney told federal judge Edgardo Ramos in open court that the government was aware of evidence that “establishes very clearly that Sean Miller is paying players in Arizona,” and filed a pretrial motion to get Miller to testify, which Ramos struck down on the grounds that Miller’s actions were not relevant to the charges facing Dawkins.
In an interview with the Star on Friday, Haney said he wasn’t trying to “create a circus or side show” by questioning Miller on the stand. Haney said he didn’t care if players were being paid but believed they should be.
“My aim was never to try to crucify Miller,” Haney said. “His own assistant coach did that. I wanted to establish that there was an extremely close relationship (between Miller and Dawkins) and that Christian never offered Sean Miller any money to steer players toward LOYD management (Dawkins’ fledgling agency). If that line of questioning had been allowed, it would have helped. But I respect the judge’s decision.”
Haney said Dawkins spent a week “hanging out” around the Arizona program in August 2017 and that he wanted to show that as evidence of Dawkins' close relationship with Miller, whom Haney also expressed high regard for as a coach.
“I think Sean Miller has done a great job. He’s a great coach,” Haney said. “So it’s nothing personal. I was laser-focused on my client.”
Dawkins was charged with bribing assistant coaches in exchange for promises to steer players to them for representation. A jury found Dawkins not guilty of charges that alleged he defrauded schools — a ruling Haney said he hoped could help Dawkins’ appeal of an October 2018 conviction on fraud charges — but guilty of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery.
“I thought Miller’s testimony could have exonerated Christian on bribery charges,” Haney said. “My whole point in my motion was that if anyone had influence (over players) it was Sean Miller. According to the assistant coach (Richardson), the head coach the whole time was feeding the family and paying the players. If a bribe was to be paid, it was to be paid not to Book but to Sean. I still don’t believe there were any bribes paid to Book Richardson.”