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Arizona suspends coach Mark Phelps and forward Keanu Pinder

Nov 30, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats assistant coach Mark Phelps signals during the first half against the Texas Southern Tigers at McKale Center. Arizona won 85-63. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats formally announced on Friday that the program has suspended assistant basketball coach Mark Phelps without pay for five days due to a violation of NCAA rules.

Over that period of time, Phelps will miss the team’s games against Northern Arizona and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The program noted that the head coach’s suspension is “unrelated to the ongoing federal investigation” and that Phelps is eligible to return to his post on November 15.

Additionally, Wildcats senior Keanu Pinder is “being withheld” from Friday’s season-opener against Northern Arizona stemming from a violation of team rules, but is eligible to return against UMBC.

Phelps joined head coach Sean Miller’s staff in 2015. He has also served as an assistant with North Carolina State, Arizona State, Missouri and Marquette along with a five-year head coaching stint with Drake from 2008 to 2013.

Last season was the first with the Wildcats for Pinder, who came over from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. The 6-9 forward saw 12 minutes per game over 35 contests, shooting 53.7 percent from the field.

In relation to Arizona’s comments about Phelps’ suspension unrelated to the ongoing federal investigation, the program is alluding to a fraud and corruption scandal that swept around the college basketball landscape weeks ago that saw four assistant coaches involved. One of those was Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who had been with the program since 2009.

Arizona put up its third 30-plus-win clip in four years last season, posting a 32-5 record. The Wildcats season came to an end with a loss in the Sweet 16 to Xavier.



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