LSU’s head basketball coach spoke for the first time since his suspension in March. Will Wade provided ample apologies but few answers during Tuesday’s SEC spring meetings.
Will Wade’s team won the regular season SEC title and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen this past season. Meanwhile, Wade’s name surfaced in an FBI investigation of college basketball. People were skeptical of how Wade, in his second season at LSU, built a top-recruited class.
There was no evidence of foul play until a wiretap exposed Wade’s shady recruiting practices. The recording included Wade describing a “strong-ass offer” made to freshman Javonte Smart for his services. Smart did eventually sign with the Tigers.
Coach Wade declined to meet with school and NCAA officials over the tap. He was then suspended on March 7th.
LSU has suspended men's basketball coach Will Wade indefinitely, the school announced Friday. https://t.co/NVs6uPp7ZI
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 8, 2019
Wade was reinstated on April 14th after agreeing to meet with officials. Wade’s contract with LSU was renegotiated at the meeting. Under the reworked contract, Wade can be fired if the NCAA even starts a Level 1 or Level 2 infractions investigation.
He was also forced to waive the $250,000 bonus he received from the university for leading the Tigers to an SEC regular-season championship.
Wade insisted on Tuesday that he is being fully cooperative with the investigation:
A little over 2 weeks after Wade was reinstated, more allegations were brought against him.
Convicted former Arizona Assistant Book Richardson said on an FBI video that Wade had a $300,000 deal to land 5-star recruit Naz Reid.
Also on tape, Richardson says LSU coach Will Wade offered him a job to help with recruitment of Naz Reid. Per Richardson, Wade said, “look, there’s a deal in place. I got $300,000 for him.” Richardson, “I said, give me half and I’ll make sure the kid goes there.”
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) April 29, 2019
Wade also addressed these allegations on Tuesday:
Wade recognized how this turbulent year has wrecked his reputation.
All things considered, Wade is still in charge of the basketball team. He still has a job to do, and he knows it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
His appearance at this press conference was one of his first efforts to make peace:
New Year, New Season
Most of Will Wade’s comments at Tuesday’s SEC spring meeting consisted of apologies. In addition, many people were dissatisfied with his avoidance of answering certain questions.
After being asked if he really did make the “strong-ass offer” comment, he replied with:
“I’ve not heard the recordings, so I don’t know. I don’t think any of us have heard the recordings.”
Column: It had been 82 days since LSU basketball coach Will Wade answered questions from reporters. He offered no explanation for the "strong-ass offer," which seems to be perfectly fine with enabling LSU administrators https://t.co/apdFwB7w0M
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) May 28, 2019
One thing Wade did make clear, though, was his intentions moving forward.