clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sloppy reporting doesn’t matter when you’re ESPN

Sporting media piled on Sean Miller when the allegations came out. The silence the last 24 hours has been deafening.

Southern v Xavier
“Not guilty, y’all got to feel me.”
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

24 hours ago Sean Miller was cleared of any wrongdoing by the IARP. In their own words, NCAA’s investigative arm said “The hearing panel found no violation for the former head men’s basketball coach because the hearing panel determined that the former head men’s basketball coach demonstrated that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance.” That’s as cut and dried as you can possibly get.

You may have heard about this case back in 2018. It took the basketball world by storm back then as it seemed poised to take down Miller, one of the game’s bright young minds. ESPN, specifically Mark Schlabach, gleefully reported “When Dawkins asked Sean Miller if he should work with assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson to finalize their agreement, Miller told Dawkins he should deal directly with him when it came to money, the sources said.”

Dick Vitale, whose knowledge of the game has not advanced in 30 years, jumped in, “Sean Miller is a disgrace to the University and it’s fan base. They need to get rid of him. Here is a guy that clearly cheats and is still there... All I can say is WOW / a PROUD UNIVERSITY has been EMBARRASSED & HUMILIATED by the actions of their coaching staff.” Nonsense grammar aside, Vitale was doubling down on Schlabach’s report.

The one little problem with all of this ESPN reporting is that it was patently false. The FBI had indeed wiretapped Arizona, but they never caught Sean Miller talking about anything. The NCAA and IARP should be derided for how long it took, but by the time their report came out any mention of the wiretaps was proceeded by “The FBI agents recorded former assistant men’s basketball coach No. 1 saying.” Just in case you aren’t aware, that’s Book Richardson, not Sean Miller.

Vitale, a ranting has been, tripled down yesterday. Given ESPN’s haphazard work on this story so far, it’s no surprise that he somehow missed the part in the IARP report that said, “By their very covert nature, the illegal activities undertaken by former assistant men’s basketball coach No. 1 could not reasonably have been discovered by former head men’s basketball coach.” Obviously Vitale and the talking heads at ESPN can’t be expected to read the report of the story they are covering. That would be too much work. In their world though, Sean Miller should be reasonably expected to uncover a criminal conspiracy that required FBI wiretaps before it came to light.

Jay Bilas said this would be a career-ending things for Sean Miller. He must have failed to do the research that the IARP did before declaring sanctions on Coach Miller “not applicable,” and finding: “The hearing panel concludes that no violation of the head coach responsibility occurred... From the outset of his employment at Arizona, former head men’s basketball coach explained to his coaching staff and all staff members that he expected them to unconditionally follow and comply with every NCAA rule.” The next two pages of the report describe the manner in which Miller did that.

If you would like to take a step that no one at ESPN did and actually become familiar with the facts of this case, the entire report can be found here. It’s not a beach read, but at 122 pages it should at least fill the afternoon at work. In there the IARP which, it should be said again, is a branch of the NCAA details the lengths that Miller’s staff went to to keep he or his compliance department from finding out about their cheating. In one mildly hilarious episode Book Richardson had to fake a phone call being made to obtain a transcript he already knew didn’t exist because he’d falsified it.

So what happens now to ESPN, Schlabach, Vitale, and Bilas? Nothing. Not a one of them has tweeted an apology. None of them have even acknowledged that they got the story wrong. Here at Banners, a site run by four brothers with other full time jobs, we make sure our sources are solid before we run with any breaking story. At ESPN, the alleged worldwide leader in sports, they spent four years dragging a guy without bothering to find out, or care, they had been lying the entire time.

ESPN will remain ubiquitous because they long ago cornered the market on sports entertainment. SportsCenter is still the best daily recap show, a lot of good games still grace their airways. When you are watching, though, remember that the four letter can’t be bothered to vet a story well. Take anything they say with a grain of salt. And, should Dick Vitale or Jay Bilas pop up on your screen, just mute it. It’s going to be unsourced tripe anyway.

A lot of this was spent on ESPN. Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated is also complicit in this. I won’t link his article here because it is such a clout chasing load of pure garbage that it stoops to the level of alleging racism on the part of... someone? everyone? because the person caught committing high level federal crimes was also sentenced for them and the innocent person wasn’t. If you want to read that stupidity and willingly lower your own IQ, you’ll have to find it on your own.