TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - UA’s fiscal year ends on Sunday and that means it is the final day of official employment for men’s basketball assistant coach Mark Phelps with the university.
Phelps’ lawyer dropped a grenade on UA and its athletics department on Saturday when he released a statement to FS1 College Basketball Insider Evan Daniels claiming the school defamed the coach.
Don Jackson, of the Sports Group, says UA Athletics Director Dave Heeke, admitted under sworn testimony that he had no knowledge of violations by Phelps.
The assistant coach was suspended indefinitely in February when Heeke said the department was moving to fire Phelps.
The University said in a statement at that time the action 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.”
Phelps had been suspended during the 2017-18 season for five days for violation of NCAA rules.
Jackson statement states that Senior Associate Athletics Director Krystal Swindlehurst implied that Phelps was “terminated due to a personality conflict”.
“The actions of University of Arizona representatives, particularly Athletics Director Heeke amount to defamation.” Jackson said in the statement.
He believes the move to remove Phelps was made by UA to help them potentially get a lesser level of sanctions from the NCAA for infractions that Jackson says Phelps was not a part of.
“Coach Phelps has been rendered virtually unemployable in college basketball,” Jackson statement read.
UA Athletics could find out as soon as July what infraction its men’s basketball team is facing as a result of former assistant coach Book Richardson’s federal conviction in the NCAA Bribery Scandal.