We all held our breath for this?
Arizona’s five-plus year wait for news on its fate fell flatter than a two-bit mystery, which seemingly would have a compelling ending. But, alas, it didn’t.
Arizona, its fans and, well, anyone who cared were held hostage until today.
That said, the University of Arizona athletic department made out pretty good, save for the likely millions of dollars it spent defending itself in the months, years it took to get this crazy thing completed. And the thousands it was assessed in fines ($5,000 and 1 percent of the UA program’s budget) in the IARP’s final analysis. Of course, it was placed on a three-year probation, but, hey, they’ll get through that, right?
The IARP committee almost seemed like it had a conscience – or heart – when it doled out the news. It took into account Arizona self-imposed itself during the 2020-21 season and cooperated as much as possible.
So, there’s that. All parties were glad it’s over. Who isn’t?
In a statement, UA officials said they were happy to see the process end.
“While many of these allegations predated current athletics staff, we are appreciative of this process coming to an end after five years,” athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement. “Our athletics department will continue to maintain a culture of compliance as we live the Wildcat Way and develop academic, athletic and life champions.”
UA president Robert C. Robbins said: “We are pleased to have reached the end of this process with the NCAA and have great confidence in our athletics leadership. The basketball program, under Tommy Lloyd, is in great hands and I look forward to another highly successful season.”
Like Arizona, if not better, Miller came away all but unscathed, given he was not assessed a penalty after the IARP found that he “demonstrated that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance and monitored two of his assistant coaches regarding the academic eligibility of men’s basketball prospective student-athletes, rebutting the presumption of head coach responsibility,” the panel’s ruling stated.
At the begging of all this – years ago – UA was facing five Level I violations while under Miller. He adamantly denied any knowledge in a press conference in 2018.
Miller, now the prodigal son/head coach at Xavier, said in a statement: “This has been a long journey and I am glad everything is finally finished. I am excited to move forward. I’d like to thank my wife Amy and my entire family, President [Colleen Hanycz] and [athletic director] Greg Christopher for their support through the completion of this process.”
Again, it’s over. What the committee didn’t want to do is harm those who are currently on this year’s team. Again, it showed compassion, which to me means Arizona took the smart way in getting this looked at, through the IARP and not the NCAA.
With all that, Tommy Lloyd & Co., can move on.
“President Robbins and Dave Heeke made it clear to me when I accepted this position how important a culture of compliance is at the University of Arizona,” Lloyd said in a statement. “I am thankful that our program can continue competing for championships and representing Arizona.”
Arizona can now move on with its life. It will not be without a few limitations after the IARP found it guilty of three Level 1 charges.
Arizona will have to vacate all the victories of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. It will have to vacate the Pac-12 Tournament wins in which Rawle Alkins participated in. He was part of the report that Book Richardson paid $40,000 for a fraudulent transcript to help him remain eligible.
The program has lost one scholarship in one of the next two recruiting seasons. They are currently one under the 13 teams can have. They added a seven-week ban on recruiting via calls or written communication next academic year.
So, there’s that, but still it seemed outside of the money lost in litigation and notoriety, Arizona survived the worst. Save for the hostage situation of the program waiting and wondering.
The two who may have been hurt the worst were Miller’s then assistant coaches Book Richardson and Mark Phelps.
Richardson was said to not cooperate with the investigation.
Richardson was handed a 10-year show-cause order, while Mark Phelps was handed a two-year show cause for his part in asking a player to lie about an impermissible $500 loan and for having an Arizona player to help recruit two players.
And now, it’s finally over. You can breathe now. How does it feel?