TUCSON, Ariz. — After a meeting Thursday morning in Phoenix, the Arizona Wildcats Board of Regents publicly supported the University of Arizona’s decision to fire assistant men’s basketball coach Mark Phelps.
Arizona on Wednesday initiated the process to terminate Phelps, and a day later, regents chair Ron Shoopman said in a statement that the school removed Phelps “following due process provided in policy.”
“The board is confident this decision was made to ensure the utmost integrity and highest standards in the UA men’s basketball program,” Shoopman said in the statement. “As the governing body of Arizona’s public universities, the board is committed to doing everything possible to uphold the excellence and quality of the institutions we oversee, including the athletic programs at the universities.”
Phelps’ attorney, Donald Maurice Jackson, of Montgomery, Alabama, said Phelps was removed because of an alleged NCAA rules violation.
The school said Wednesday in a statement that Phelps’ removal was “not related to the federal criminal proceedings in New York or the NCAA’s review of the facts underlying the allegations of unlawful conduct.”
Sources told ESPN that Phelps is accused of a violation regarding former Arizona recruit Shareef O’Neal‘s academic transcripts. O’Neal, the son of former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, committed to the Wildcats in 2017 before signing with UCLA. O’Neal sat out this season because of a heart condition.
Phelps, in his fourth season on Arizona’s staff, denies wrongdoing and has cooperated with university and NCAA investigators, Jackson told ESPN.
The Wildcats played their first game since Phelps’ removal on Thursday night against Washington at the McKale Center in Tucson.
ESPN reporter Mark Schlabach contributed to this report.