Ayton, Miller named in FBI investigation

Ayton, Miller named in FBI investigation
Deandre Ayton.

University of Arizona freshman sensation, Deandre Ayton, is at the centre of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

According to a report by ESPN on Friday, Arizona Wildcats Coach, Sean Miller, was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment regarding Ayton with former ASM Sports employee Christian Dawkins.

Several sources close to the investigation said that Miller and Dawkins, an associate of ASM Sports agent, Andy Miller, had numerous conversations about Ayton. According to an FBI report, the telephone calls between Miller and Dawkins were among 3,000 hours of conversations intercepted from Dawkins’ phone by bureau.

Ayton, with his Arizona Wildcats coach, Sean Miller. Both Miller and Ayton have been named in association with an ongoing FBI investigation into the National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA). (Photo courtesy of USAsports.com)

The FBI also reported it had obtained documents and bank records during the probe into college basketball recruiting. The said report revealed potential NCAA violations for at least 20 Division I basketball programs and more than 25 players.

Arizona released a statement following the release of the documents saying Miller and the school agreed for him not coach the Wildcats’ game Saturday against Oregon, citing the “best interests of the University and the basketball program.” However, Ayton was in the lineup, with the school saying in the statement that he remains eligible to play. He scored 28 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and came up with four blocks in the 98-93 overtime loss.

If any of the accusations are proved to be true, it’s a good chance Ayton won’t play for the remainder of the season, and it’s almost certain the Miller would be out of a job.

On Sunday, Ayton’s attorney said he is seeking assistance from both the FBI and the NCAA to clear his client’s name in the FBI corruption investigation.

Ayton’s attorney released the following statement: “The parents of Deandre Ayton, and his family are outraged and disgusted by the reported recent news stories which have falsely implied that her son or his family have any involvement in illegal or prohibited activities regarding his decision to matriculate at the University of Arizona.”

The statement also said that Ayton directly stated to the FBI, more than six months ago, that he never discussed or solicited payments from the University of Arizona, or any other university, and also that his commitment to the University of Arizona was based on his family ties in Phoenix.

Ayton leads Arizona with 19.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game this season.