Arizona head coach Sean Miller has some interest in returning to Pittsburgh, multiple sources have told Pittsburgh Sports Now.
Miller, 49, is an Ellwood City native and played as a point guard at Pitt from 1987 to 1992 after graduating from Blackhawk High School.
He’s currently the head coach at Arizona, where he’s led the Wildcats since 2009 with a 247-74 overall record and seven trips to the NCAA Tournament. Miller’s teams have had a perception of failing to capitalize in the spring. He’s been to three Elite Eights and no Final Fours despite four 30-win seasons in the Pac 12. They lost to No. 13 seed Buffalo in the first round this year.
Miller, who was falsely reported to have interviewed for the Pitt job in 2016, has been the persistent subject of rumors during this hiring process despite his continued employment at Arizona. Sources tell PSN that intermediaries have reached out to Pitt on Miller’s behalf to express his interest in the job.
What’s less clear is how much Pitt is interested in having Miller. The ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball has focused much of its efforts on Miller’s former assistant at Arizona, Emanuel “Book” Richardson, and ESPN reported this season that Miller discussed a payment for talented freshman forward Deandre Ayton with an agent whose phone was wiretapped. Miller disputed that report and Arizona allowed him to return to coaching after a one-game suspension.
Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke has a law degree and worked in the NCAA’s compliance office before stops at Ohio State and Eastern Michigan, so if anyone would be able to navigate the complicated mess of dual FBI and NCAA investigations into the Arizona program, she would seem to have the tools to do so.
Pitt’s past as a university has been fairly risk-averse when it comes to issues of compliance, and a move to hire Miller would represent a departure in that regard.
There’s also the matter of the money working out. Miller has a $10.3 million buyout, and it’s unclear if Arizona would be willing to waive that, if they intend to fire him, or any number of scenarios in between. He also made $3.7 million this season as one of the highest-paid coaches in the country, and would likely demand a greater salary than some of the other options Pitt is considering.
It’s far from a done deal that Miller will come to coach the Panthers, but it doesn’t seem completely implausible at this point, either.