ESPN: Calls link Arizona’s Sean Miller to recruit’s convicted felon handler

Trial documents show 13 phone calls between Sean Miller and Christian Dawkins

ESPN: Calls link Arizona’s Sean Miller to recruit’s convicted felon handler
University of Arizona Men's Basketball Head Coach Sean Miller (Source: Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A prized college basketball recruit’s handler reportedly made dozens of calls to various college basketball coaches, including to Arizona Wildcats Men’s Basketball Coach Sean Miller, in an attempt to score the biggest financial prize for the star prospect, according to an ESPN report.

During Brian Bowen II’s recruitment in the late spring of 2017, his father agreed to accept $100,000 from Adidas to ensure that his son signed with the University of Louisville. The recruit’s handler, Christian Dawkins, also made and received calls with phone numbers associated with at least two Division I head coaches -- Arizona’s Miller and Creighton’s Greg McDermott, the report released Sunday night stated.

A federal jury in Manhattan found the former Adidas business manager Dawkins, former Adidas executive James Gatto, and amateur league director Merl Code guilty of fraud charges on October 24, 2018. The trial centered on whether the men’s admitted efforts to channel secret payments to the families of top recruits luring them to major basketball programs sponsored by Adidas was criminal.

The ESPN report reviewed Dawkins' cellphone records from May 3, 2017, to July 2, 2017, showing there were at least 13 phone calls involving a cell number belonging to Miller and at least nine calls with McDermott’s phone number. The analysis by ESPN shows that all but three of those calls were placed between May 8, 2017, and June 1, 2017, when Bowen II committed to the Louisville Cardinals. The ESPN report details that the records show Dawkins made or received calls from the number associated with Miller lasting at least five minutes.

“Arizona officials have denied multiple open-records requests from ESPN for any subpoenas the university received from the federal government for information and grand jury testimony related to the investigation. They also have declined to provide Miller’s cellphone records and his correspondence with university officials. They repeatedly cited ‘the balancing test established by the Arizona courts to protect the best interests of the state’ in their refusal to release the records,” Sunday’s ESPN report explained.

Miller has denied involvement in the scandal that has shook up the college basketball world, standing by his statement released March 1, 2018, explaining that he has, “never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program. I have never paid a recruit or prospect, or their family or representative, to come to Arizona.”

Tucson News Now reached out to the University of Arizona for comment on Sunday’s ESPN report. In response, university officials said, “The University of Arizona is aware of the information that has appeared in media reports regarding the just completed trial in New York. We are continuing to review the matter and will take such steps as are deemed necessary and appropriate based upon credible and reliable evidence. Out of respect for the judicial and administrative processes involved, we have no further comment at this time.”

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