A lawyer contracted by the University of Arizona says Wildcats center Deandre Ayton or his family didn’t receive any benefits during his recruitment to the school.
According to a Friday night report by ESPN, wiretaps reveal that Arizona coach Sean Miller talked about a $100,000 payment for Ayton to come to Arizona with a runner for a basketball agency. Miller didn’t coach Arizona’s game Saturday night against Oregon but Ayton played.
According to attorney Paul Kelly, the outside counsel for Arizona, allegations that Ayton or anyone else associated with him accepted benefits during his recruitment to Arizona are “false and unfounded.”
“Over the past several months, Mr. Ayton has voluntarily submitted to several interviews, by federal prosecutors and the FBI, by University and PAC-12 compliance officials, by representatives of the NCAA, and by Steptoe & Johnson, the independent law firm engaged by the University to review these matters,” the statement said. “In each of these interviews, Mr. Ayton has credibly and consistently maintained that neither he nor any member of his family, nor any representative thereof, received any money or extra benefit to influence his decision to attend the University of Arizona. Not a shred of evidence has been adduced suggesting otherwise, which federal investigators and NCAA officials have acknowledged.”
“As a former Assistant U.S. Attorney with a deep understanding of the criminal investigative process, and as an NCAA legal practitioner, I can say with confidence that DeAndre Ayton has abided by all applicable rules and regulations and is fully eligible to participate as a member of the Men’s Basketball team.”
A lawyer representing Ayton’s family also said in a statement that allegations against him were false. That lawyer demanded statements to “clear” Ayton.
“Although the FBI does not routinely do so (although exceptions have been made), DeAndre’s family certainly believes it is appropriate for that law enforcement agency, as well as NCAA and University of Arizona, to make public statements which unquestionably clears DeAndre’s good name,” the statement said (via ESPN).
A Yahoo Sports report Friday morning exposed spreadsheets that detailed alleged payments to numerous players from the ASM agency for various purposes including flights and loans. Former Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson was arrested in the fall relating to the FBI’s corruption investigation into payments for players.
Ayton, a freshman, is widely expected to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft and be a top-five pick.
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