Arizona Basketball

Outside counsel to Arizona claims Ayton “fully eligible” in statement

ESPN reporter Mark Schlabach, who broke the story Friday about Arizona coach Sean Miller’s alleged FBI wire-tapped conversation with an agent runner regarding a $100,000 payment to Deandre Ayton to play for the Wildcats, tweeted Sunday a statement from a member of the University of Arizona’s outside counsel in response to the matter.

Boston attorney Paul Kelly mentions in the statement that media reports and reactions that Ayton should be ineligible because of the perception that he and his family received improper benefits in his recruitment to Arizona are “false and unfounded.”

“Not a shred of evidence has been adduced suggesting otherwise, which federal investigators and NCAA officials have acknowledged,” wrote Kelly, who added that Ayton has voluntary submitted to interviews with federal prosecutors, the FBI, Arizona and Pac-12 compliance officials, representatives of the NCAA and the university’s independent law firm.

Miller did not coach in Arizona’s 98-93 overtime loss at Oregon on Saturday night, noting in a statement that it was in the best interest of the team. Ayton played and had 28 points and 18 rebounds in the game.

Arizona is set to return to practice Monday, which is also the day the weekly press conference is held with Miller at McKale Center. Miller’s replacement against Oregon, associate head coach Lorenzo Romar, said in a press conference after the Oregon game that he did not know of Miller’s coaching status for the rest of the season.

Arizona (22-7, 12-4 Pac-12) hosts Stanford on Thursday with the opportunity to clinch at least a share of the regular-season conference title and the No. 1 seed of the Pac-12 Tournament held in Las Vegas March 7-10.

The 14th-ranked Wildcats end the regular season Saturday with a game against Cal. That will be the final game at McKale Center for seniors Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic, Keanu Pinder, and former Salpointe standout Talbott Denny.

Here is the full text of Kelly’s statement:

To Top