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University of Arizona begins process of firing assistant basketball coach Mark Phelps

Posted: 8:30 PM, Feb 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-07 09:58:14-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona has initiated the process to fire assistant basketball coach Mark Phelps.

In a statement to KGUN 9, the university said this process is not related to the FBI bribery investigation.

As of now, Phelps has been placed on suspension with pay, as per University rules.

ESPN reports the action comes after a violation involving former Arizona recruit Shareef O'Neal, son of Shaquille O'Neal. That is according to an ESPN source.

Phelps' attorney posted on Facebook Wednesday that Phelps was confident he would be exonerated and allowed to resume his coaching career.

Both the University and UA Athletic Director Dave Heeke released statements Wednesday.

Statement from the University of Arizona

“The University of Arizona has initiated the process to terminate Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Phelps’ employment with the University. During this process, Phelps has been placed on suspension with pay in accordance with University policy. This personnel action is not related to the federal criminal proceedings in New York or the NCAA’s review of the facts underlying the allegations of unlawful conduct.”

Statement from Director of Athletics Dave Heeke

“The University of Arizona is committed to the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct and our commitment to those principles is unwavering. The decision to remove Coach Phelps immediately is a direct result of that commitment. We strive to compete within the rules of the NCAA and the PAC-12 Conference, and we will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA. Coach Miller fully supports this decision, which we agree is in the best interests of our men’s basketball program and the University.”

Phelps was suspended for five games in 2017 for buying senior senior forward Keanu Pinder a plane ticket.