Sources: FBI agents visited Baton Rouge to investigate Will Wade

LSU head coach Will Wade during the first half of a game against Florida in Gainesville on March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
LSU head coach Will Wade during the first half of a game against Florida in Gainesville on March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

After LSU coach Will Wade's indefinite suspension from the school on March 8, FBI agents were in Baton Rouge investigating his recruiting tactics, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports. That included a Louisiana-based FBI agent active in Baton Rouge the following week, conducting in-person work regarding Wade.

The FBI made clear its interest was speaking specifically about Wade, according to a source. The FBI's interest in Wade's recruiting tactics could potentially signal an expansion in the federal basketball corruption case. An FBI agent who was in Baton Rouge declined comment when reached by Yahoo Sports. The agent referred questions to New Orleans field office public-affairs specialist Craig Betbeze, who did not return multiple requests for comment. Nicholas Biase, spokesman for the Southern District of New York, declined comment.

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Wade has been captured on multiple wiretaps with agent-runner Christian Dawkins, the since-convicted felon who faces more charges in a trial later this month. Dawkins' attorney, Steve Haney, told Yahoo Sports this week that Wade has been subpoenaed by defense attorneys in the case. There's a chance that subpoena could end up being challenged. Both of Wade’s attorneys, Michael G. McGovern and Steve Thompson, declined comment.

Wade is currently suspended indefinitely from coaching at LSU in the wake of a Yahoo Sports report that he was captured on an FBI wiretap talking about a "strong-ass offer" to a different recruit. Wade's refusal to meet with school officials after the story led to his suspension on March 8. He missed LSU's final regular-season game, the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament.

“If the FBI has been in town, we are not aware of it,” LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson said in a statement. “The University has not been contacted.”

Wade and LSU are at an awkward crossroads, as Wade is owed nearly $10 million if he's dismissed without cause. If he's fired for cause, LSU would owe him nothing. The school has appeared to be building the case to fire him for cause, publicly asking him to meet with school officials to talk about his actions. McGovern wrote a letter to school officials on March 12 that referenced Wade not speaking to school officials until "the conclusion of the pending SDNY criminal investigation." That could end up being a different date than the upcoming trial of Dawkins and Merl Code, which is scheduled to begin on April 22. Federal officials have stressed throughout the federal basketball corruption case that the investigation is ongoing.

Sports Illustrated cited sources in reporting this week that LSU and Wade were working toward a meeting. The SI report cited Wade's hiring of another attorney, Thompson, as a key factor in bringing the two sides closer together. Thompson has worked with many coaches and universities facing NCAA rules compliance issues. McGovern, of Ropes & Gray in New York, is a more conventional white-collar crime attorney who specializes in "complex criminal and civil enforcement litigation matters."

The school and Wade have been at odds for a month, ever since Wade was suspended March 8 and refused to meet with LSU administrators soon after. "This is something we have been working on for weeks and I can confirm the most recent talks with Will's legal counsel have been productive," Munson said in a statement to SI. "As we have said since Day One, we would welcome Will and his legal counsel's cooperation in this process. With an NCAA inquiry, where it leads will depend on the level of cooperation with LSU and the NCAA. But, we have certainly made clear our desire to take the first step."

Yahoo Sports reported four-star guard Javonte Smart was the subject of the "strong-ass offer" that FBI wiretaps caught Wade discussing. The offer was made to middleman Shannon Forman, a fixture in Baton Rouge basketball circles who is close with the Smart family, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports.

LSU won 28 games — the most at the school since 1980-81 — claimed the Southeastern Conference championship and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

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