Members of the NCAA enforcement staff have spent parts of the past six months looking into the recruiting tactics of LSU coach Will Wade, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
NCAA enforcement officials have done work both on the phone and in person to look into Wade, including traveling around the country, to learn more about his recruiting.
The NCAA’s scrutiny of Wade began not long after his hire at LSU in March, but the inquiry has stalled because of a lack of on-the-record specifics about Wade’s recruiting, according to a source. The NCAA’s information gathering has covered part of his time as head coach at VCU, according to a source. Wade’s early recruiting activity at LSU prompted the NCAA enforcement interest, according to a source.
The NCAA’s interest appears to be in its exploratory and information-gathering stages, according to sources.
“After talking to my staff we have had no contact from the NCAA regarding any irregularities,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva told Yahoo Sports on Sunday.
Wade is in his first year coaching at LSU, where he has cast a national recruiting net and had a spree of success landing blue-chip recruits out of Connecticut and Florida shortly after getting hired in Baton Rouge. LSU’s 2018 class is No. 3 in the country in the Rivals.com rankings, behind Duke and Oregon and ahead of Kansas and Kentucky. That class includes top prospect pledges from New Jersey, Florida and Louisiana.
Wade, 35, emerged as one of the country’s most successful young coaches the past few seasons. He went to back-to-back NCAA tournaments while at VCU in 2016 and 2017, compiling a record of 51-20 while in Richmond. Prior to that, Wade went 40-25 at Chattanooga from 2013-2015.
It’s unlikely the NCAA probe of LSU and Wade intersects with the ongoing federal investigation into basketball corruption, as the NCAA has been respectful of the boundaries of the ongoing criminal cases.
That federal investigation has featured multiple links to the LSU program, though none of those known links are currently associated with Wade’s 11-month tenure at the school.
ASM Sports, Andy Miller’s agency that landed in the Justice Department’s crosshairs, represents Jarell Martin, the former LSU star who left school for the NBA in 2015. Martin’s name frequently shows up on the emails and expense reports of Christian Dawkins, the former Miller associate arrested in the case, according to documents viewed last week by Yahoo Sports.
According to a balance sheet from ASM Sports viewed by Yahoo Sports, former LSU star Tim Quarterman received at least $16,000 while a junior at LSU.
In responding to the allegations in the Yahoo Sports story on Friday, Alleva said in a statement: “While LSU has not been contacted by federal, league or NCAA officials, we can confirm a proactive and voluntary examination of current coaches and players was conducted by compliance officials and outside legal counsel in the Fall of 2017. That examination found the program in full compliance with NCAA, SEC and University rules and regulations. LSU will continue to monitor basketball and other athletic programs for NCAA and SEC rules compliance.”
Former LSU coach Johnny Jones texted the The Advocate newspaper about the Yahoo Sports story that featured Martin and Quarterman on Saturday saying: “I have no knowledge or information in regards to this matter that we’ve all read about in the press, and because of that, I will have no further comment.”
Wade did not return a call to Yahoo Sports seeking comment.
(Yahoo Sports national college columnist Pat Forde contributed to this report.)
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• Emails in hoops corruption case detail inner workings of sport’s underbelly
• Arizona daring NCAA to do something about it by playing Deandre Ayton
• Lawyer for Arizona: Deandre Ayton allegations are ‘false and unfounded’
• Arizona loses despite Deandre Ayton’s dominant showing amid FBI scandal