Sean Miller exits Tucson with one remarkable statistic: He is almost certainly the highest-paid state employee in Arizona history. He was paid more than $30 million to coach Arizona’s basketball team for 12 seasons.
No university president, no university-employed surgeon, no governor in this state has ever been compensated with such an accumulation of wealth.
Miller reigned like a king. Untouchable, disconnected, as if he built a moat around McKale Center. He flew in private jets. Limited his relationships to the school’s mega-donors. Public appearances? Few and very far between. An introvert of the highest level, Miller’s self-imposed prison was walking through the world all alone.
As the Eagles sing, “You better let somebody love you before it’s too late.” UA fans loved their basketball program more than Miller loved them back.
If Miller enjoyed his time at Arizona, it rarely showed. Dour. Grumpy. Quick to anger. In a 2016 home game against Oregon, a TV microphone captured audio of Miller calling center Kaleb Tarczewski a vile name.
Two nights later, after a win over Oregon State, I asked Miller if he regretted humiliating Tarczewski. It was an if-looks-could-kill moment
“I don’t care what it’s perceived like,” he said. He later added: “This type of environment isn’t for everybody.”