A Message on UA Men's Basketball

Oct. 3, 2017

One week ago, our University community learned of the arrest of a member of our men’s basketball coaching staff, a result of a Department of Justice probe into criminal wrongdoing in college basketball.  At the time of the revelation, I reiterated our commitment to compliance and to the high ethical standards that we demand of our entire university community.

Since arriving on campus in June, I have come to understand a great deal about our institution, specifically the incredible students, faculty, staff, and supporters who make Arizona unique.  But I have also taken heart in the core values that go hand-in-hand with our daily work.  Those values are why I have a responsibility to all of you to discover the truth in this matter, to take action if warranted, and to ensure that our policies and practices related to athletics compliance are among the best in the nation.

To that end, I want to share with you steps that we have taken to live up to our values.

  • Upon learning of the indictment, we immediately consulted with the Office of the General Counsel and engaged in communications with officials from both the NCAA and PAC-12 Conference.
  • We initiated formal dismissal proceedings against Emanuel Richardson, the assistant men’s basketball coach charged by federal prosecutors.  Mr. Richardson was immediately relieved of all duties.
  • At my direction, our Office of the General Counsel retained Steptoe & Johnson LLP, an internationally recognized law firm, to initiate an independent review of the allegations leveled by the Department of Justice against Mr. Richardson.  Their review includes all of the allegations related to Arizona contained in the criminal complaints issued last week and any related legal issues or compliance concerns arising from those complaints.  While the University is retaining the firm, I have given investigators my assurances that they have complete independence in their work.  The investigative team is led by Paul Charlton, the Managing Partner of Steptoe’s Phoenix office and a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.  The work of investigators from Steptoe’s Phoenix and Chicago offices began on Monday and will be completed as efficiently and as comprehensively as possible.  We will share the results of their review.
  • The University has also retained outside counsel to assist the institution with the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation, as well as with potential NCAA matters.  Jackson Lewis is a world-renowned firm recognized for their expertise in complex criminal and civil cases, as well as in issues involving professional and collegiate sports.  Attorney Paul Kelly, a highly respected former Assistant U.S. Attorney and trial attorney and Gregg Clifton, an accomplished sports lawyer and litigator, are leading the team.  Jackson Lewis attorneys Gene Marsh, former Chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions and one of the most widely respected attorneys in the field of NCAA enforcement matters, and John Long, an attorney with extensive experience in NCAA enforcement, eligibility, and compliance issues, will represent Arizona in any matters with the NCAA.

I have briefed the Board of Regents in its oversight capacity and will continue to provide the Board with regular updates.  Should any new information come to light in the coming days and weeks, we will not hesitate to act or to take additional measures to fully address any issues.

The criminal investigation by the Department of Justice has no timeline and the independent investigation by Steptoe & Johnson will proceed expeditiously but may also be prolonged.  In addition, any allegations of violations of NCAA bylaws must be thoroughly addressed by the University and by the NCAA.  So, I ask for your patience as the necessary work continues, so that we all can have answers to our questions.

Since his arrival in April, our Director of Athletics, Dave Heeke, has been a wonderful addition to the University and a great partner to me since I came to Tucson, no more so than this past week.  His insight, experience and integrity are on display each and every day, and Dave’s input on critical decisions has been invaluable.

Head coach Sean Miller has not been charged with—nor accused of—any misconduct and he has been fully cooperative and supportive of our efforts to determine the facts in pursuit of the truth.  In a message that he shared with the community earlier today, Sean expressed his own devastation at the revelations last week and acknowledged his responsibility as the head coach to promote and reinforce a culture of compliance.  Based on the facts that we know at this time, we support Coach Miller and intend to provide him with all of the tools necessary to meet our goals and expectations.

The tremendous young men in our basketball program deserve our continued support as they work towards the start of the season, and I have complete faith that our passionate fans will continue to show them our love.

As your President, it is my responsibility to do what is right, to do what is needed, and to do all that I can to ensure that every member of our community is proud to be a Wildcat.   We will be a stronger University because of the actions that we have undertaken and I will continue to keep you abreast of any developments.