Ex-LSU hoops coach Will Wade hit with 10-game suspension, 2-year show-cause for recruiting violations

Wade landed at McNeese State in March after being fired for cause by LSU

The NCAA’s lingering infractions case involving LSU finally has reached a resolution, and it includes some significant penalties for former men’s basketball coach Will Wade.

Wade had an eventful five-year run as the Tigers’ head coach that concluded when he was fired for cause in March 2022 due to an array of Level I recruiting violations. As a result of those infractions, Wade, now the coach at McNeese State, has been hit with a two-year show-cause order and a 10-game suspension for the upcoming season.

The Independent Accountability Resolution Process concluded that Wade “committed multiple violations, failed to cooperate with the infractions investigation and knowingly provided false or misleading information.”

Wade was once infamously heard on a federal wiretap discussing a “strong-ass offer” for a recruit. Later, in August 2020, Yahoo Sports reported the NCAA had information that Wade "arranged for, offered and/or provided impermissible payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 men's basketball prospective student-athletes, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects and/or nonscholastic coaches in exchange for the prospects' enrollment at LSU." Among the infractions were payments to the former fiancee of an LSU player.

Those violations were later outlined in the NCAA notice of allegations sent to LSU in March 2022, which led to Wade’s firing a day before the NCAA tournament selection show. Previously, Wade was suspended in 2019 after Yahoo Sports reported on the wiretap with Wade’s “strong-ass offer” comment. LSU lifted the suspension a month later and Wade continued coaching the Tigers for three more seasons.

LSU head coach Will Wade calls a play against Arkansas during the second half of an NCAA men's college basketball Southeastern Conference tournament game Friday, March 11, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Former LSU head coach Will Wade calls a play against Arkansas during the second half of an NCAA men's SEC tournament game March 11, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Will Wade facing significant recruiting restrictions at McNeese State

Despite the history of recruiting violations, McNeese State hired Wade as head coach in March. With the NCAA ruling stemming from his time at LSU looming, McNeese State preemptively suspended Wade for the first five games of the 2023-24 season. Now he’ll officially be out for 10 games.

The recruiting restrictions related to the show-cause order — which run from June 22, 2023, to June 21, 2025 — could prove to be more of an issue for McNeese than the suspension. During the duration of the show-cause order, Wade will be barred from many off-campus recruiting activities and recruiting communications with prospects.

Here are the specific prohibitions from Wade’s show-cause:

No off-campus recruiting-related activities during any applicable April or summer evaluation and/or contact period.

Reduction in official visits by four each during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years.

No recruiting conversations between September 1, 2023, and October 15, 2023, and September 1, 2024, and October 15, 2024.

No unofficial visits from September 1, 2023, through October 15, 2023, and September 1, 2024, and October 15, 2024.

With Wade out of the picture, LSU self-imposed an array of penalties to its men’s basketball program, including a reduction of one basketball scholarship for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons and multiple recruiting restrictions (a reduction in official visits, a 15-week ban on unofficial visits, a seven-week ban on telephone communications with prospects, among others) during the 2022-23 academic year.

LSU’s football program was also tied into the case. Like the men’s basketball program, the football program self-imposed penalties that included a postseason ban for the 2020-21 season.