Report: Deadline for NCAA investigation of LSU football and men’s basketball program extended

As the July 31 completion date of the NCAA investigation of LSU’s football and men’s basketball programs has been extended, what LSU didn’t want to happen with the three-year old NCAA probe happened.

LSU’s request for its football and men’s basketball cases to be judged separately by the NCAA has been denied, according to documents shared between LSU and the NCAA that were obtained by The Advocate through a public records request.

It means if the Independent Accountability Review Process (which handles complex NCAA infractions) finds LSU guilty of violations and levies penalties, the panel’s decisions are final and can’t be separated.

That’s not good news for LSU’s football program because its alleged rules violations are considerably less than men’s basketball.

Football has three alleged violations. Last November, LSU self-imposed penalties on the football program, hoping to lessen the blow of an eventual NCAA ruling.

The Tigers cut eight football scholarships over the next two years, reduced recruiting visits and banned former LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from LSU facilities for two years. He distributed $2,000 in cash to LSU players after LSU won the 2020 national championship.

But in men’s basketball, according to a December 2020 letter from external investigator Nicole Lamb-Hale and LSU compliance director Bo Bahnsen, there are alleged violations involving “at least 13 prospective student athletes and a projected 75 individuals who may have knowledge of, and/or involvement in, the alleged violations.”

Also, the reason LSU’s case was advanced to the Independent Accountability Review Process was because the NCAA enforcement staff said it took 13 months to receive Wade’s complete cellphone image records, which totaled nearly 60,000, according to documents obtained by The Advocate last year through a public records request.

The enforcement staff contended valuable information had been lost as a result.

The July 31 completion date of the investigation, agreed upon by LSU and the IARP complex case unit, has been extended LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard confirmed.

The investigation of Wade started in 2018 before Yahoo Sports published excerpts in March 2019 from a conversation of FBI wiretaps wiretapped between Wade and now-convicted middleman Christian Dawkins, in which Wade said he made a “strong-ass offer” to a recruit.

Wade was suspended by LSU for 37 days after he first declined to meet with LSU and NCAA officials. He eventually talked to both groups and was reinstated.

But as part of his reinstatement, Wade forfeited $250,000 in incentives for the 2018-19 season. Also, LSU added a clause to Wade’s contract that allows the school to fire him with cause if it receives a notice of allegations for either a Level 1 or Level 2 violation.

New LSU President William F. Tate IV told the Advocate’s editorial board Thursday that he expects LSU athletic director Scott Woodward to stick by the terms of Wade’s re-written contract.

“My expectation is that our athletic director would — if something is contractually laid out — that he would execute the contract,” Tate said.

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Ron Higgins

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