Don’t expect to see Will Wade back on the sideline for LSU anytime soon.
Both the Baton Rouge Advocate and ESPN reported Wednesday that Wade, currently indefinitely suspended, will not speak with university officials until the conclusion of the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball. According to the Advocate, Wade’s attorney informed LSU of the decision with a letter on Tuesday evening.
Yahoo Sports reported last week that a phone call between Wade, LSU’s second-year head coach, and basketball middleman Christian Dawkins was intercepted by FBI wiretaps. On the call, Wade speaks with Dawkins about a “strong-ass offer” he made in the recruitment of a prospect, believed to be current Tigers freshman guard Javonte Smart.
Because he won’t speak with school officials until the investigation comes to an end, Wade won’t coach the Tigers in the SEC tournament this week. And with a criminal trial in the case scheduled to begin April 22, it is highly unlikely Wade will coach in the NCAA tournament.
LSU won the SEC’s regular season title and is currently ranked No. 9 in the country. Even if the Tigers make a deep run in the tournament, their season will end before the trial begins. Yahoo Sports reported last month that Wade’s representatives were informed that the coach will receive a subpoena to testify.
According to the Advocate, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said Wade could potentially return if he agrees to speak with school officials, has an explanation about his conversations with Dawkins and denies wrongdoing. Wade initially agreed to speak with Alleva, but later reversed course.
According to Sports Illustrated, the meeting was canceled when LSU refused to hold the meeting without the presence of an NCAA representative.
Expanding on @theadvocatebr piece:
- #LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard says Wade's attorney was welcome to meet with administration and Wade
- Wade & attorney canceled, Ballard says, when LSU refused to grant their wishes: to hold meeting *without* an NCAA rep & to limit scope of Qs
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) March 13, 2019
“All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended head coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards,” a March 8 university statement attributed to LSU president F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva said.
What did Will Wade say on the FBI wiretap?
Yahoo Sports was first to report on Wade discussing an “offer” on federal wiretaps. On part of the call, Wade is frustrated that the “offer” had yet to be accepted by a third party affiliated with the recruitment. Wade believed the third party hadn’t been given a big “enough piece of the pie in the deal.” Instead, the deal was more “tilted” toward the player and his mother.
“I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”
The “Smart thing” is believed to be in reference to Javonte Smart, a top-50 recruit out of Baton Rouge.
“It was a [expletive] hell of a [expletive] offer,” Wade says to Dawkins. “Hell of an offer. Especially for a kid who is going to be a two- or three-year kid.” The tape does not offer any specifics of the “offer.” However, ESPN reported that, in a different call with Dawkins, Wade joked that the player would be compensated more than the “rookie minimum.”
Could Javonte Smart return to the court?
After reports of the wiretap emerged, Smart, a guard averaging 11.4 points per game as a freshman, was held out of the team’s regular season finale against Vanderbilt, a game that clinched the SEC regular season title.
LSU said it was using “an abundance of caution” in making the decision to hold him out against the Commodores. It said the decision was “difficult and disappointing for everyone involved.”
“This is done only in an abundance of caution and as a result of the lack of clarity provided regarding media reports and reported wiretaps involving Head Coach Will Wade. This decision does not suggest, in any way, wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing on Javonte’s part or his family,” a school statement said.
LSU is scheduled to return to the court on Friday in the SEC tournament quarterfinals against the winner of Thursday’s Florida-Arkansas game. LSU is the tournament’s top seed. According to the Advocate, there’s a chance Smart could play.
LSU officials have spoken with Smart and his mother with NCAA investigators present. Per the Advocate, the school’s investigation is “expected to wrap up in the coming days.”
“Javonte and his family have been fully cooperative and open with university officials,” LSU said last week. “Javonte is a valuable member of the team, the university and the LSU family. The university and NCAA continue to review the matter in order to come to a resolution as quickly as possible.”
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