Arizona Basketball

Heeke talks status of Miller, UA basketball program, but …

Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke spent about 10 minutes saying he supports coach Sean Miller and is behind the “iconic” school he works for. Heeke said numerous times “we look forward to (the success) of this program and the future of this program continues to be very, very strong.”

In an impromptu question-and-answer session with the media during Saturday night’s halftime of the UA-Washington State game, Heeke was peppered with questions about the state of the program and the NCAA investigation.

Dave Heeke (photo courtesy GoAZCats.com)

He did say he could not speak to specifics, which of course meant no real news came of the 10 minutes.

“I wanted to stand in front of you – and I want to be very, very clear about this – is that we support this basketball program, support these players, support this coaching staff … this place deserves nothing less than that,” Heeke said. “We’ve supported them all the way back and the leadership of this program. We support Coach Miller and this program. Anything that is reported that has been contrary to that is completely false.”

About 90 minutes later, Miller was asked how he felt upon hearing Heeke has his full support, Miller said, “I appreciate it.”

Here are some of the questions he was hit with:

How would you characterize where you are with the NCAA? Is it an active investigation?
“There is no way I can comment on that.”

How difficult was it to make the decision on Mark Phelps?
“I’m not going to comment on that specifically, but anytime you have to make a decision please know it doesn’t come lightly. There’s a lot of conversation, a lot of contemplation that are involved in that. We continue to do the right thing when faced with issues. As I’ve said all along, we will do the right thing. This is an iconic brand, Arizona basketball. This is an unbelievable university and a world-class university. We’re going to do the right thing.”

There was speculation you were trying to build a case to possibly make a change with coach Miller with the possibility of firing him for cause. Is that happening?
“I’ll say this again, we are fully supportive of the coaching staff and leadership of the basketball program. I support coach Miller. Those things that have been said to the contrary to that are not true.”

How do you feel about how the about the hit the program has taken recently?
“It’s an iconic program. It’s an unbelievable brand. All of us in college basketball are concerned with the image of all of our programs with the recent issues that are going on. We need to get through that so the game of basketball can be in a better place. It has impacted a number of programs. It’s difficult and disappointing and tough to take. I remain very confident in this program going forward.”

Will the continued losing that is rare here at Arizona play a factor on any decision with the coach?
“Again, I support Coach Miller. We’ve had many years of success here. We’ve faced adversity, injuries and that makes it hard. I’m impressed with the effort these guys give. I’m impressed with the effort our coaches have put in and I support them.”

Have you met with the players? Have they given you any input regarding what’s going on?
“I regular talk to the players but we have not had a formal meeting.”

Do you have plans to self-report anything unrelated to Mark Phelps.
“I’m not going to comment on any of that in any way.”

How have you handled this emotionally and otherwise and maybe how has Sean given he doesn’t talk about this?
“Again, I’m very confident in our program and very confident in what we do here and how the Athletics program is run. I continue move forward and find the ways to do the very best for all our student-athletes so we can move forward.”

Does this stuff frustrate you as an AD given there are a lot of things going on in the program that are positive?
“There’s a great deal of positive going on in this program across the board. We are building new facilities. We just dedicated a new pool facility, we will soon open an indoor practice facility and open an unbelievable softball stadium next Thursday. We’re poised with some great teams going into the spring. There are many positives. We don’t take our eye off the target on that. We will deal with that and deal with what we can control and look for the positives.”

What do you hear from the fans and the boosters?
We’re going to lead this conference for the 35th year in average attendance. This is an unbelieve fan base that has been very supportive of the program and where we are headed. They see there are challenges but se we can all come together. We will come gather and move from that.”

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