After a standoff that lasted more than five weeks, LSU has reinstated head basketball coach Will Wade, according to a statement from the university’s vice chancellor and athletics director Joe Alleva.
According to the statement, the decision was made after Wade met with officials of the university and the NCAA on Friday, a meeting that Wade initially avoided until retaining Stephen Thompson, an attorney known for his work with NCAA-related cases.
“The LSU Athletics Department today agreed to reinstate Will Wade as head coach of the Tiger basketball program,” Alleva said in the statement. Coach Wade met Friday with University and NCAA officials. During those meetings, he answered all questions and denied any wrongdoing in connection with recently reported allegations of irregularities in college basketball recruiting.
“The University regrets that Coach Wade did not choose to fulfill his obligations to LSU when he was first asked to do so. However, the seriousness of the allegations and Coach Wade’s prior refusal to refute them could not be ignored without exposing the University and the basketball program to great risk. Protecting LSU and preserving our integrity must always be our first priority.
“Coach Wade’s explanations and clarifications offered during the meeting, absent actual evidence of misconduct, satisfy his contractual obligation to LSU. Accordingly, I have recommended that Coach Wade’s suspension be lifted and that he should be allowed to resume his coaching responsibilities. President Alexander has accepted this recommendation.”
Wade also released a statement regarding his reinstatement in which he thanked the university for their patience during the month-long stalemate and apologized for initially failing to meet with officials.
“I am humbled and grateful to be back at LSU. I would like to express my appreciation to President F. King Alexander and Athletic Director Joe Alleva for my reinstatement, and I sincerely apologize to the university and our fans for the disruption to the University and the program,” Wade said in his statement. “I regret the circumstances that prevented me from meeting with the University sooner. I wish I could have addressed these issues when the University first requested a meeting, and I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to do so last week.
Wade also took responsibility for the stalemate, saying he understood why he could not coach under the circumstances surrounding the situation.
“I completely understand that without my denying or explaining the media reports accusing me of wrongdoing LSU was left with no choice but to suspend me until I was willing and able to meet with them. Any other course of action would have put the program and the University at risk.
“I look forward to re-joining the team right away. I intend to sit down with my student-athletes and co-workers to explain what has happened during the last 30 days and how I intend for us all to move forward.”
Wade was suspended on Friday, March 8, a day after Yahoo Sports published a report that contained transcripts of a wiretapped phone call between Wade and convicted college hoops middleman Christian Dawkins that appeared to show Wade discussing improper benefits for a third party related to the recruitment of freshman guard Javonte Smart.
With the report containing quotes from Wade that insinuated he made a “strong-ass offer” to the third party in return for Smart’s recruitment, LSU asked Wade to meet with university officials and the NCAA, but Wade initially declined, as recommended by his attorneys at the time.
As a result, LSU indefinitely suspended Wade, keeping him off the sideline for the Tigers’ SEC-Championship-sealing victory against Vanderbilt as well as LSU’s four postseason games.
His reinstatement comes at a crucial time as five LSU athletes with remaining eligibility have declared for the NBA Draft and the late signing period beginning on Thursday (April 18).
All five of those athletes — Naz Reid, Tremont Waters, Skylar Mays, Emmitt Williams and Smart — remain eligible to return to LSU so long as they do so by May 25, 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine.
In addition five-star recruit Trendon Watford, who has LSU in his final list of five schools, is expected to announce his decision and sign his National Letter of Intent on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Terrill Weil