Sean Miller is in deep trouble. For the third straight day, a central figure in the college basketball corruption trial took the stand and accused Miller of paying players at Arizona. It became even more clear on Thursday that he won’t survive this scandal.
On Thursday, Christian Dawkins took the stand in the New York courtroom and accused Miller of paying players. Miller was subpoenaed to appear as a defense witness at the trial, but the judge ruled that he didn’t have to appear. Throughout the proceedings, however, he has been a central figure.
Wiretapped phone calls show Dawkins and former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson discussing payments for players, including future No. 1 NBA draft pick DeAndre Ayton. In that call, Richardson claimed Miller was paying Ayton $10,000 per month.
Here’s what Yahoo! Sports wrote about the key exchanges from Thursday:
"Under oath here on Thursday morning, Christian Dawkins testified that Miller was paying players. Under cross-examination from defense attorney Mark Moore, who represents Dawkins’ co-defendant, Dawkins answered “yes” when asked to confirm that on an FBI wiretap there was discussion of Miller paying Arizona players. Moore opened up a line of questioning about Dawkins’ relationship with Miller. Dawkins confirmed that he had a relationship with Miller, but stopped short of saying that they were friends."
Even if Arizona can somehow work around this, the fact that Miller has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly will make it so he can never get clean. He’ll always be seen as dirty and until he’s gone, the specter of massive NCAA sanctions will hang over the program.
It’s time for Arizona to look at this objectively: this isn’t a wild rumors or pure speculation, these are witnesses in a federal trial testifying under oath. If these guys get caught lying, they go to prison. Even the most staunch Miller defender will find it really difficult to dismiss this testimony.
In retrospect, Miller may have known this was coming. After the Wildcats’ final home game of the season, he addressed the crowd. He sounded a lot like a guy who knew he wouldn’t be back. He knew this trial was coming and he had to know some dirty laundry would be aired. If so, he was right.
At this point it’s hard to see how Arizona continues to stick with Miller. This has gone from bad to much, much worse. He almost certainly won’t survive long.