The Sean Miller The Arizona era came to an end on Wednesday when the school announced it was saying goodbye to his men’s basketball coach after 12 seasons
While the move wasn’t particularly surprising, it happened more than five weeks after the Wildcats played their last game of the 2020-21 season. About 50 Division I jobs have opened this low season, many of which opened and filled between the time the UA lost in Oregon on March 1 and it decided to move on from Miller.
President of the school Dr. Robert C. Robbins and athletic director Dave Heeke released statements about the decision to part ways with Miller, citing them need for a ‘new start’.
Heeke explained to reporters via Zoom on Wednesday afternoon. Below is an overview of what the UA AD had to say. The full press can be seen at the bottom of this story.
About why the decision has now been made: “Why now? These are tough decisions. There is never a perfect time. But after the end of the season, where we took some time to evaluate all the factors, we thought very carefully, had the right talks and President Robbins We concluded that it was time for a fresh start, so it was time to make a change. Ultimately, that decision was made late last night or early this morning, before arriving at the office and meeting Coach Miller. ”
Which factors are involved in the decision: “We are evaluating the overall position of the program, which includes both on- and off-court elements. And then if you step back and evaluate where the program is, we have incredibly high standards for being a program that is successful at all levels, on and off the field. When we evaluated it, at this point in time, we felt like it’s the right time to make a change so that we can restore the overall high caliber status of this incredible world-class basketball program, start rebuilding. We set very high standards for our basketball program, for all of our programs here. Alignment with the you know the values of this university. Success is important, high performance is again important, both on and off the field. And we are constantly evaluating that. We’ve probably been as successful as we wanted, on the competitive side, but there are a number of factors that influence that. If we look at it in totality, we make an evaluation. And today, as we stand, it is time for a change in that direction, and a change in leadership is the first step. “
Whether a contract extension was considered and whether the Arizona Board of Regents had a say in the decision to terminate: “Expansion was one of those factors and something we took into account. I am not going to speak in any way on behalf of the board or on behalf of the board. We considered those things and we got to the point where we felt it was best to move forward and change the direction of our leadership. “
On the timeline to find a successor: “Jack Murphy is our interim head coach, he will navigate the program with the support of the current staff during our search period. We will actively search, and it is an optimal time to find a new head coach. We will continue with that. We move quickly and hire someone as soon as possible. We will continue to do this 24/7. “
About the general expectations for the program: “Our expectations and our wish is that our program be on a national level. To compete for championships here at this conference, an excellent basketball conference, of course, as was shown in this year’s NCAA tournament. Yes, it is expected to be a national caliber program that can compete to be in the Final Four. That’s what we want to do. We just saw our women’s basketball program do that, it was a remarkable run of Coach Barnes and our women’s program, that’s the kind of run we want to do in this men’s program too. Very high demands. We are one of the best programs in the country. One of the most respected programs in the country. We also want to participate at that level. “
On whether Adia Barnes’ recent success and new football coach Jedd Fisch’s early impressions influenced the decision: “Our basketball program for men, women and football are different in their own way. I don’t think there is any connection with it. Our programs across the board are doing great things, we want all of our programs to do that. We look forward to the future. The timing is what it is, and we need to make progress in our men’s basketball program. “
On whether Arizona will look to stay within the Arizona ‘family’ for its next coach, as Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina have all recently done: “There are certainly some incredibly outstanding individuals playing in the game of basketball who have had a huge impact on our program here, and continue to do so throughout the coaching ranks. I assume they would be very viable candidates for this. There are those who have stayed in (the family) and there are those who have done it differently. I find it inspiring what they have done. Each place is unique in its own way, has its own unique circumstances. In the moment, the time, the individuals associated with it begin to dictate or begin to lead you in one direction. “
On the importance of head coaching experience for the new coach: “I think we’re looking at anyone who can bring something to the table. I think there are excellent head coaches, they are current head coaches, who have experience in head coaching. At the same time, I think there are excellent assistants who have been part of programs that are excellent, that bring a lot to the table. It’s about finding the right match, finding where we really need to go and then developing that plan with those ultimate candidates, see a bit, is that the right plan? Is that what we want to go together in partnership, as an athletic department to support a program? And whether that is a head trainer or an assistant, we provide the right person. “
About the ideal characteristics of the following coach: ‘I think we need an excellent leader. A high level basketball coach who understands how to run a successful program in this day and age of basketball. But we need someone who can run the program with great integrity. That’s what this program this athletic program is all about, and we look forward to attracting those types of individuals. Be the leader of our student athletes. We need someone who understands the full college experience and wants to help our student athletes grow. At the same time, here come student athletes who want to compete in all our sports at the very highest level and beyond, beyond the university level. So we want you to know people who come in and who have ambitions and we want a head coach who can design a program for that. This is a world-class basketball program, a great history, going back many years, and we need someone who can embrace that and help us move forward. “
About making a change under NCAA investigation: “We have continued to run the NCAA investigation process. And frankly, it’s going on for a lot longer than anyone could have expected from us. The timing of that process does not preclude my ongoing evaluations of the program and the very high expectations we have of it. I think we’ve been very clear, we wanted to make the process go as long and as far as possible. That does not mean that on that timeline we are not constantly reviewing our program and the status of that program. On, off the court, all the problems surrounding a major college basketball program. And while those are factors, they are just some of the factors. We feel like we allowed that process – we didn’t think it would take that long. But we have to move forward on this point. We think it is best for a fresh start, and it is best for everyone involved. “
About whether the research can influence the interest of top candidates: “I think experienced candidates who come into this pool and evaluate this job will understand the process and what the final results will be. We still have the option to attract and design a package and contract with a coach that will be very acceptable. “
About what was said to the players: “I don’t think I’ll go into the details of that meeting right away. We had our coaches there, as well as our student athletes and some other members of the staff around the program. These are difficult times, it is a challenging time when you have to change something. This is part of the setback, but to stay focused, that we will act quickly, we will hire an excellent coach. Our goal, again, is to help them with their experience here, in all facets of their college experience and beyond. We want them to achieve their goals. We want them to play for championships. We want them to excel at a high level, so I told them that we are 100% committed to that and that we are looking for an excellent new head coach for this program. “
On how Miller took the news and whether he was taken by surprise: “Sean, as always, was very professional and respectful. They are difficult conversations, but he was, again, professional and very respectful. I am not going to talk specifically about the content of our meetings. As I said before, every time I’ve been with Sean he’s been an incredibly respectful and professional person, and it was no different today, or any of the previous meetings we’ve had. And we’ve talked through time, this period. “