Sean Miller hired as Xavier men's basketball coach after year away from sport

Former Arizona coach Sean Miller is returning to college basketball after one season away from the sideline.

Xavier announced Saturday that it is bringing Miller back as its men's basketball coach.

Miller was a top target for Xavier and South Carolina's coaching vacancies, sources told ESPN, but the lure of returning to the Musketeers was too much to pass up.

During his five seasons with Xavier from 2004 to 2009, the Musketeers went 120-47 and made four NCAA tournaments -- including an Elite Eight run in 2008 and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2009.

He then moved to Arizona, where he led the Wildcats to five Pac-12 regular-season titles and three Elite Eight appearances from 2011 to 2015. Arizona went to the NCAA tournament in seven of Miller's first nine seasons, making the second weekend of the tournament five times.

In September 2017, Arizona became entangled in the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball. That added an aura of uncertainty to Miller's candidacy, as Arizona's punishment from the NCAA enforcement process -- via the Independent Accountability Resolution Process -- could include some level of punishment specific to Miller.

In March 2020, Arizona's initial notice of allegations from the NCAA indicated a hearing panel "could prescribe head coach restrictions" to Miller. A ruling on Arizona's case from the IARP is expected within the next year.

Arizona assistant Emanuel "Book" Richardson was one of four assistant coaches arrested as part of the investigation. Richardson eventually pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery after being accused of accepting $20,000 to steer Arizona players to aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins.

During Dawkins' trial, prosecutors played an FBI-intercepted call in which Richardson told Dawkins that Miller was paying $10,000 per month for former player Deandre Ayton. Miller consistently denied paying players to attend Arizona.

The NCAA charged Arizona with five Level I violations last March, and while none of the charges included Miller allegedly making payments to players, he was charged for not demonstrating "that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance and monitored his staff."

The cloud hanging over the program affected Miller's final three seasons at Arizona. The Wildcats missed the NCAA tournament in 2019 and self-imposed a postseason ban for 2021.

Arizona fired Miller in April. He had one year left on his contract, and the two sides could not agree on an extension due to the ongoing NCAA issues.

At Xavier, Miller will replace his former assistant Travis Steele, who was let go earlier this week following an NIT win over Cleveland State. Steele had been with the Musketeers in different capacities since 2009. He was an assistant under Miller for one season before spending his next eight seasons as an assistant under Chris Mack. When Mack left for Louisville, Steele was promoted to the top spot.

In four seasons, Steele didn't make an NCAA tournament appearance. Before he took over, the program had reached the NCAA tournament in 16 of the previous 18 campaigns.

Miller, a Pittsburgh native who played college basketball for the Panthers, is the son of legendary high school coach John Miller and the brother of newly hired Rhode Island coach Archie Miller. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Wisconsin before spending two years under Herb Sendek at Miami (Ohio). He returned to Pittsburgh for one season and then spent time at NC State and Xavier before being promoted to the top spot with the Musketeers when Thad Matta left for Ohio State.